Promote the Joy of Reading with Apps

January 27, 2016 | Diane

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Happy Family Literacy Day!

There are so many fun ways to celebrate the joy of reading and literacy today (and all year long!) at home, on the go, and at the library. Tonight, my family is planning on reading some Elephant & Piggie stories and playing a couple of rounds of "Go Fish". And, if there’s time left over, we might create our own TV show using the TeleStory app.

Apps are software programs that you use online or on mobile devices. While setting limits on screen time for kids is important and screen-based activities shouldn’t replace reading and unscripted play, apps can be useful tools to support your child’s learning because they’re fun and can be customized to individual needs.

Here are my favourite apps for 6 – 12 year olds that can bring the family together while building storytelling, spelling, reading, writing and other literacy skills through fun games and creative play:


TeleStory App IconTeleStory
Free, Ages 6 – 8, Available for iPad and iPhone

TeleStory helps kids write, direct and act in their own TV show, and can be a great family storytelling activity. With options including news reporting, music videos, and a spy theme, there’s something for everyone. One of the best features of this app is that it provides story prompts and cues, but also allows kids to write their own dialogue. Kids can make plenty of other creative choices, such as scene selection, animated costumes, backdrops and special effects, and they can share their final products with friends and family.

TeleStory App TeleStory Cue Cards TeleStory Character Creator

Gappy Learns Reading App IconGappy Learns Reading
$2.99, Ages 6 - 8, Available for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

Gappy is a cute little rabbit on a journey to earn new parts for his house. As he travels, he encounters broken bridges that he must repair by correctly spelling words in order to cross. There are four levels to choose from, ranging from basic letter identification to spelling words independently, and kids can progress at their own pace. This is a great way to practice sight words and reinforce letter sounds, as kids will be motivated to collect the rewards.

Gappy App Gappy App Levels Gappy App Bridge

Mad Libs App IconMad Libs
Free, Ages 9 - 12, Available for iPad and iPhone

Mad Libs is the app version of the fill-in-the-blank story creation game that you probably played as a kid. This is a fun way to encourage creative writing, build vocabulary and foster grammar skills by identifying parts of speech like nouns, verbs and adjectives. With 21 free stories, there is plenty of variety, and stories can be saved, shared and replayed. Whether they play on their own or with others, hilarious results are sure to ensue.

Mad Libs Story Mad Libs Blank Mad Libs Filled In

Letris 4 Apps IconLetris 4
Free, Ages 9 – 12, Available for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

Letris is kind of like Tetris, but with words instead of blocks, which might explain why it’s so addictive. In order to keep the screen clear and advance to the next level, players have to build words. There are various stages for beginner or advanced players, including timed play and challenges, as well as a less-frenzied “relaxed” version. The multiplayer feature makes it a great game to play between parents and tweens, while building vocabulary and practicing spelling.

Letris 4 Levels Letris 4 Challenge Letris 4 Level Completed

7 Little Words for Kids App Icon7 Little Words Kids
Free, Ages 9 - 12, Available for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

The original 7 Little Words game is one of my all-time favourites, and the kid-friendly version is just as fun. Players must unscramble word tiles using clues to solve the puzzle and earn rewards. With no time limit, these are no-stress puzzles that build vocabulary and encourage team play (“Mom, what’s a six-letter word for the ability to remember things?”), much like solving a crossword does. An extra bonus – new puzzles are added daily, and you can also play the original game online on the website.

7 Little Words for Kids 7 Little Words for Kids Main Menu  7 Little Words for Kids Filled In

Feel free to submit your family-friendly app suggestions below!