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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Khan Academy Kids

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

Bottom line: It's tough to stand out in the crowded early learning space, but this collection does just that, offering a one-stop shop for creative learning of foundational skills.

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.

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.

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.

LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: LeapSchool Reading

Kids play fun reading and hobby games to complete a classroom yearbook

Bottom line: A combination of reading games and activities based on hobbies fill this engaging title about building a yearbook.

HOMER Reading: Learn to Read

Interactive app engages beginning readers of diverse learning styles

Bottom line: Top-notch phonics program effectively balances and guides students through stories, activities, and games.

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: With plenty of supervision to help kids stay on track, this free tool for teachers can be a nice classroom supplement.

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.

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.


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.


Solid choice for leveled readings and progress-tracking

Bottom line: Trusty -- if a tad dated -- tool for helping younger students become proficient in many aspects of reading.

LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary School

Thorough lesson plans help teachers utilize an amazing digital library

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

Lexia Reading Core5

Interactive reading program promotes targeted, individualized growth

Bottom line: A good blended reading platform that offers students some choices, and teachers actionable data and useful offline resources.

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.


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.

Rivet: Better Reading Practice

Free, leveled library has promise despite missing pieces

Bottom line: The free library of high-interest content is handy, but the lack of data and learning features will require supplements and supports.

Amazon Rapids

New way to engage reluctant readers can be a good short-term option

Bottom line: A fresh way to engage reluctant readers, but teachers will need to monitor comprehension and connect students to more complex texts.

Epic! - Unlimited Books for Kids

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.


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 targeted reading instruction in any classroom.

News-O-Matic: School 2018-2019

Flexible, interactive daily stories for elementary school students

Bottom line: Engaging, high-quality news stories help students learn about the world.

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