As we pass the one year mark of the COVID-19 lockdown, many parents and educators have begun to reflect on the academic toll this year has taken on our children. No matter the subject, a number of students have had a hard time adjusting to at-home or hybrid learning. And the worry about them losing instructional minutes and falling behind in core subject areas is at the forefront of this discussion.
One of the ways that we as parents can help at home is to foster and encourage reading for our children outside of normal school requirements. Studies have shown that children who read for pleasure are more likely to score higher on standardized tests, especially when they discuss what they have read with family and friends. Conversely, children who rarely read for pleasure tended to score below the average threshold on the same assessment.
So what do we do if our children are reluctant readers? Not every child has the same drive when it comes to reading for pleasure and it is our job as parents to spark that inspiration by providing as many tools and supports as possible to encourage them along the way. There are tons of resources available but we have narrowed it down to three apps that you can use as a family to encourage even the most reluctant readers.
Bookful is a great way for younger children to literally see their books come to life! This app features a huge library of titles, ranging from fiction to nonfiction. After choosing a title, the user can select whether they want to read the story themselves or hear it read aloud. Each page brings the image on the page to life in full 3-D. When they are ready, the user turns the page by swiping with their finger. The books that are recommended to the user are based on their current reading level and interests, so the titles to choose from should be instantly appealing.
When the user wants to take a break from reading, there are literacy-based games that can be played as well.
Bookful is available for Android and iOS.
For many children, one of the barriers to reading is finding books with characters who accurately reflect their culture and identity. For this, the app We Read Too is an amazing resource to explore the rich amount of literature available written for and by people of color. It is a database of books exclusively written by people of color that the user can search by age level. The app features a wide range of titles from picture books to high-school aged young adult novels. If the user is interested in the title, clicking on it provides a link for purchasing the book from Amazon.
We Read Too also contains a recommendation feature, meaning that if the user knows of a title that would interest others, they can submit a request to have it placed in the app’s database.
We Read Too is available for Android and iOS.
For the family who wants to turn reading into a game, Epic! Books and Reading is a great app to get everyone involved. Multiple children can use the same app by creating their own custom accounts with their reading levels and interests. The app then recommends books to them based on this information. As of March 2021, the app boasted over 40,000 titles, so there is a huge variety to choose from no matter what your interests are. The users earn points for reading titles and can even have an in-app “pet” that will read alongside them. The eggs that contain the pets are hatched when the user meets certain reading goals.
Epic! Books and Reading is available on Android and iOS and Kindle.
What are some ways you have encouraged reading in your home? Share your thoughts in the comments below!