Review of Mobile Apps For Reluctant Readers, “I’m so Excited!”


This evening I discovered Edreach, a website that compiles podcasts about education. I ended up listening to a podcast that reviewed apps especially for reluctant readers.  In my experience, most reluctant readers LOVE computers and electronic gadgets, so what better way to get them reading and interacting with books?  Basically, my mind was blown!  I had no idea this stuff was out there!  At my school, the “listening center” is just that, the kids put in a CD or a cassette tape (remember those?) and proceed to hold a book, trying to flip the pages at the right time. The narrators of Mobile Reach, David, Jennie, and Sue, described a much more engaging and versatile experience.

They first reviewed Subtext, an app that allows kids to read e-books and interact within a text!  A group of students can participate in an e-discussion. For example, a teacher can highlight part of a text and comment on it.  Students can add their own ideas. A student could write, “I thought that part was scary” and another student or the teacher could reply, “I think it might be foreshadowing.”  Subtext is a perfect app for classroom book clubs.  This possibility of exchange makes reading a social activity which may add to the appeal for reluctant readers.

Another app that sounds amazing for young readers is Collins Big Cat Books, available on itunes.  These books assist in language acquisition and reading fluency.  A child can choose and listen to a book being read to him, or the child can read aloud and then listen to their own voice so they can hear their own level of fluency. Their are little games embedded in the stories such as finding a mouse on every page or touching different parts of the screen to add sound affects.

Similarly, Toystory is an e-book app that allows students to be read to, or to read and record their own voices.  There are movie clips sprinkled throughout so it’s part movie – part book, which would appeal to most students and will probably spark the interest of reluctant readers.

One app that sounds fascinating is The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.  Sue described this app as “an award-winning short film that is an interactive narrative experience.”  I don’t know what that means but you can bet I’m going to find out and share it with my students!  Morris Lessmore has a visual table of contents and during the interactive narrative experience students play the piano and play with food!

An app that has applications for high school teachers as well as teachers of younger children is iannotate. This app allows educators to record text, to highlight a skill that students are working on,  or to circle vocabulary words. In this way, teachers can “talk to the text” and literally write on it. This app could have important applications for history, science, or foreign language teachers.

Edmodo allows students and teachers to create a chatroom, book talks, and class discussions. The beauty of it is that it is all done through writing and, theoretically, your classroom will maintain an atmosphere of calm and quiet!

Tales2go is an award-winning mobile audio book publisher that manages multiple users at once. This is important because we all have to share technology at school and this app can remember what different users were reading!

Remember Reading A-Z? A lot of us are still using it, but now there’s a paperless version called RAZ-kids which provides e-books and is compatible with the common core. RAZ-books also has quizzes and a parent component.

Another oldie-but-goodie is Starfall. Their app is appropriate for kindergarten through first or second grade. It teaches basics such as days of the week, months of the year, phonics, and phonemic awareness in an engaging way.

Tumblebooks is another classic but there are different versions. Tumblecloudreader has chapter books and is also interactive. Tumblebooks reads in five different languages including Mandarin Chinese, just in case you need that!

The last one I will mention is scholasticstoria which is the app associated with Scholastic. They offer e-books with a share feature so it’s another good app for book clubs or guided reading. One feature that sounds great is that the teacher can create bookshelves of “just right” books for each student!  Also, and this is a little creepy, when kids look up words, it shows up on the teacher’s dashboard so she can see what words they had trouble with.

O.K., I know I promised scholasticstoria would be the last app I mentioned, but I just looked up Popout! The Tale of Peter Rabbit which features the familiar and beautiful art of Beatrix Potter. It is said to be “one of the most revolutionary digital books ever created” so I wanted to let everyone know about it!

There are so many wonderful apps to motivate all students, including your reluctant readers. There are apps and ibooks available in all genres and reading levels and the great thing about these apps is that they engage students with literature in exciting and creative ways.





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