Games are fun, and reading games can help make reading fun, too! Whether you’re looking for a game for an enthusiastic aspiring or young reader or for someone more reluctant, this list of the best reading games for kids has something for everyone on it!
You can certainly fashion reading games from common household objects (check out this awesome list of ideas from FirstCry Parenting for inspiration). But if you want something ready-made and specifically designed to develop different types of reading skills, here’s a little guide to help the young readers in your life build their skills.
Reading Games For Kids That Help Develop Literacy
I spoke with librarians in different states and all of them mentioned ABC Mouse as their go-to reading app for aspiring and developing readers. The graphics are cute, the age range is wide (from 2 to 8, with an advanced option for ages 8–13), and the reading and language arts offerings cover everything from phonics to rhyming words to parts of speech and more. It’s comprehensive, that’s for sure. But it’s not free, carrying a monthly subscription fee (although they offer free library accounts, so if your library isn’t on their list of subscribing libraries you might be able to get them to join). Bonus: In addition to reading, ABC Mouse has other subjects, too.
Editor’s note: ABC Mouse did settle a lawsuit last year for previous illegal billing practices in making renewals automatic and difficult to cancel.
Montessori Letter Sounds
If you like the Montessori method, Montessori Letter Sounds (ages 4+) is a great go-to app for encouraging that tactile experience (as much as possible with a screen). It’s available in several different languages. Similarly, Reading Raven (ages 3–7) combines a phonics-based approach with sensory input. Both have enthusiastic reviews.
Hooked on Phonics
I would be remiss to leave out a classic: Hooked on Phonics. Their app (ages 4+) has strong reviews across the board, and it’s notable that the app has successfully adapted a longstanding reading program for the digital age.
Learning Resources’ Alphabet Island (ages 4–8) is a fun and simple game. It helps aspiring readers with letter recognition, matching lowercase and uppercase letters, and pairing letter sounds with images. Plus, you have to watch out for those pesky sea creatures who might just come along and snap up your letters!
Funny Mix by Readventures (ages 4+) is a quirky game that helps kids learn phonics. How? With superheroes, of course! I mean, who doesn’t love creating nonsense names for superheroes?? It teaches long and short vowel sounds as well as consonants.
Read-Along, Reading Comprehension, and More
Remember those battery-operated read-along books from the 1980s? The ones where you slid a finger along the words and the book spoke the words for you? Well Wanderful‘s interactive storybooks are the digital-age equivalent for readers in the 3–7 age range. They have apps featuring popular characters (like the Berenstain Bears) and books (like Stellaluna). Some of their apps cost money but others (like the Storybook Sampler) are free. Bonus: In addition to English, they currently offer books in French, Spanish, German, and Japanese!
FarFaria is a reading app for ages 2–9 that lets your young reader move from having stories read to them to reading the stories themselves. It does have a monthly subscription fee (currently just under $5), so you have to factor that in.
Pirate Island: Reading for Details is a fun pirate-themed board game for 2–4 players (ages 7–8). The premise is simple: first one to the treasure chest wins! How do you get there? By reading short passages and answering questions about them. Answer correctly and you advance. Answer incorrectly and someone else might get to the booty before you! (Bonus: If your young readers like Pirate Island, they can level up to Outlast: Reading for Information from the same company!)
Reading Library Apps
Most people are familiar with the big names in ereader apps, but there are some amazing apps designed to house your little reader’s library (and, in some cases, grow it) that should be on your radar.
Hoopla and Overdrive
Additionally, Skybrary (ages 2–9) — created by LeVar Burton’s literacy non-profit organization Reading is Fundamental — looks awesome. The goal? To help young people enjoy reading. It isn’t free, coming with a monthly or annual subscription fee, but it has a really nice selection of books and offers cool extras (like videos featuring LeVar, among other things). It also has options for read-along and other features that are fun for customizing the reading experience.
Other Board Games
There are a couple of cool twists on familiar games for adults that you might enjoy playing along with your young reader.
Sequence Letters has kids ages 4–7 match letters to images beginning with that letter’s sound. For instance, if a player draws a P they could place it on a picture of a pig. Once a player has four cards in a row, they win! Simple but fun, and enjoyable for adults, too.
Apples to Apples Junior
Another good one is Apples to Apples Junior. For slightly older kids (ages 9+), it’s really similar to the regular Apples to Apples game but with age-appropriate words. No uncomfortable innuendos here, and grown-ups can play along.
Additional Reading Games For Kids
If you want more suggestions for your little techno-readers, check out Best Reading Apps for Kids. Alternately, if you’re looking for some apps for yourself, read 13 Amazing Free Reading Apps to Take Your Books Everywhere.