Common Sense


Great Early Reading Resources

Learning how to read is different for each child, but equally important for all. That's why we highlight a range of techniques within these excellent early literacy and reading apps, games, and websites. Whether you're looking to help build students' phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, or comprehension, you'll find tools here that support every step of the process. There are focused tools for letter-sound and sight-word learning and digital libraries that help motivate and engage students with the written word. Some of these resources even offer diagnostic tools to help you identify and target specific areas of need as your students work to improve their reading. You'll also find the tools target different age groups, from preschoolers and kindergartners to kids in early elementary.

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Top Picks


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Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read

Variety of drills offer solid, thorough approach to reading fundamentals

Bottom line: This can be a fun way to engage struggling readers or reinforce early reading classroom instruction.

Name Play: a name reading and writing practice kit

Simple but fun games cleverly let prereaders explore familiar names

Bottom line: This collection of name-based mini-games offers a targeted and clever introduction to literacy.

Hooked on Phonics

Well-known curriculum adapts well to fun, easy-to-use app

Bottom line: Thorough phonics program offers a nice mixture of learning, practicing, and reading.

Montessorium: Intro to Words

Well-crafted app lets emerging readers and writers develop reading skills through word building

Bottom line: Basic reading skills are developed through word building, word play, and letter-sound recognition.

Monkey Word School Adventure

Delightful monkey means business on this challenging early reading app

Bottom line: Automatic leveling and mix of phonics and sight words make this a great addition to any early reading toolkit.

ABCmouse for Teachers

Cartoon classroom has wide variety of point-and-click learning

Bottom line: Though it's not for deeper thinking, this free platform has a ton to offer.

Common Sense Selection

HOMER Learn & Grow

Early learners follow an individualized path of skills and interests to gain literacy skills and more

Bottom line: Top-notch phonics program effectively balances and guides students, but isn't as strong in non-literacy-related topics.

Common Sense Selection

Khan Academy Kids

Creative, smart mix of activities for pre-K to 2 is a breath of fresh air

Bottom line: This early-learning standout offers scaffolded, creative learning of foundational skills.

Poio by Kahoot! Learn to Read

Kid-centered early reading game leans into discovery and delight

Bottom line: This is a smart spin on phonics with a deep commitment to a kid-driven, fun-first experience.


ELL-friendly reading program gives students support, independence

Bottom line: This is a good specialized program for small-group instruction, especially for ELLs, with a great teacher dashboard and a pedagogical approach informed by research.

Montessori Crosswords

Gently ease kids into phonics with superb Montessori-inspired puzzles

Bottom line: The surprisingly great combo of Montessori principles and technology helps kids learn phonics without overstimulation.

Novel Effect: Read Aloud Books

Add music, sound effects to books to spice up story time

Bottom line: This will enhance -- but not necessarily enrich -- stories; if that's what you're looking for, it works well and pairs with A-list books.

Lexia Core5 Reading

Blended reading program offers individualized growth

Bottom line: This is a research-backed blended reading platform that builds literacy skills and helps teachers plan and deliver targeted instruction in the classroom.


Leveled readings with progress-tracking enhances differentiated reading program

Bottom line: It's worth considering as a supplement to your reading program thanks to the good variety of leveled books, easy assigning and assessing, and detailed progress reports.

Duck Duck Moose Reading

Good early reading practice, but busy with a capital B

Bottom line: Duck Duck Moose Reading offers good skills practice, if kids can block out the distractions.

Starfall Learn to Read

Delight emergent readers with lively phonics lessons

Bottom line: Easy-to-use, plentiful phonics activities keep emergent readers engaged.

Common Sense Selection


K–2 literacy program offers comprehensive, adaptive activities

Bottom line: An easy-to-recommend tool thanks to its broad coverage of key skills and nice balance of student-driven and teacher-differentiated learning.

Skybrary for School

Thorough lesson plans help teachers utilize an amazing digital library

Bottom line: Though it could use some updates, Skybrary for School has a set of top-quality resources with great value worth checking out.

Common Sense Selection

Epic! - Kids' Books and Videos

Free, expansive digital library unlocks treasure trove of books

Bottom line: This large collection of books and videos on a wide variety of topics is an easy -- and free -- enhancement to any classroom library.


Detailed, adaptive literacy program goes from basics to analysis

Bottom line: This is a comprehensive resource that's worth a look for teachers needing help getting students to actively engage with reading material.

Phonics Genius

Quality flashcard-style phonics app missing some basics

Bottom line: Phonics Genius is a great resource for building phonemic awareness and a library of sight words.

Reading A-Z

Package of leveled texts and supports can fuel reading development

Bottom line: Reading A-Z offers much of what teachers need to support tried-and-true instructional strategies, but the pricier packages add in digital reading experiences.


Great looking, free library has a reasonable diversity of titles

Bottom line: This is a reading app that focuses primarily -- and successfully -- on the reading; don't expect many bells and whistles though.


Simple and useful reading fluency assessment tool frees up teacher time

Bottom line: Some districts may find this to be a cost-effective, time-saving option for reading records.


Differentiate reading instruction with high-quality texts and lessons

Bottom line: The quality and scope of texts, lesson plans, assessments, and supports on this platform can help facilitate online or offline targeted reading instruction in nearly any home or classroom.

News-O-Matic EDU

Daily news stories and supplements keep elementary schoolers current

Bottom line: This highly useful current events platform can be a daily fixture of elementary school classrooms.

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