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Reading-Related Apps Worth Reviewing

by Lindsey Fuller
 | Apr 22, 2013
Of all the educational tools available in Apple's App Store, those aimed at reading and language arts are pretty scarce, especially for older students. And although a plethora of interactive storybooks and e-reading apps are available, literacy tools can be harder to find—but they do exist.

Whether you have a single iPad in your classroom, or are in a 1:1 setting, these reading-related apps are worth taking the time to review.

FREE APPS

YALSA's Teen Book Finder: The Teen Book Finder is a fantastic resource for discovering the best books/media for teens. These selections are made through a collaboration of librarians and educators throughout the United States, and all the books included have been recognized by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). The app allows users to search for reading material by title, author, and genre, as well as by award or list. Features include a reading list function with social media sharing capability, a favorites button, a local library locator, and a “Hot Picks” section which features three popular titles a day. The Teen Book Finder boasts plenty of reading inspiration for young adult audiences, combined with the cool factor only an app can provide.

Best Books For...: Peekaboo Studios offers a series of apps that allows users to find books based on age—Best Books for Babies, Pre-K, Tweens, and Teens are included among this group of free apps. Each offers a selection of age-appropriate reading suggestions, as well as brief descriptions of the included titles. Users can view the suggestions as a list, or by choosing a topic of interest. These apps are certainly not perfect—the lists are far from exhaustive, and do not necessarily contain the highest quality reading choices for each age group. But for intermediate and older students who may be reluctant readers, these apps can be a useful tool for rousing reading interest. Also available for Nook, Kindle, and Android.

ICDL: The International Children's Digital Library app is a collection of free children's books from around the world. These books are available in a large variety of languages, the books are beautifully illustrated, and a large quantity of titles can be found for a wide age range. The app is completely free, with no hidden in-app purchases and no advertising. The purpose of the developers is to provide books to underserved children who may not have access to libraries. ICDL contains a search feature with extensive options, making it easy to browse books that meet very specific criteria. Although the books contained in this app aren't likely to be new releases, it is an excellent resource for classic literature and/or ESL classrooms, and all the functions are very child-friendly. Some users have reported problems with crashing, but we have not had this problem.

Constant Reader Free: This app allows users to create book lists for reading history, favorite authors, favorite books, etc. These lists can be shared via email and updated or reordered as needed. Features include the ability to rate books, share favorites through social media, and add personal notes to reading selections. Users can also receive recommendations based on reading preferences, and write their own reviews. The downside to this app is that the free version only allows for one book to be added per day, which would make adding past reading history very time consuming. A paid version of the app is available for $4.99 if users find this to be an unacceptable limitation. Regardless, Constant Reader is a useful tool that allows for students to keep track of and categorize the books they have read throughout the school year. Teachers should be aware that this app is not designed specifically for students, and it allows users to read collective notes and reviews for all book titles.

PAID APPS

Kids' Book Finder ($1.99): With nearly 27,000 critically reviewed books in its database, this app is a treasure for teachers, parents, and students. he most impressive feature this app offers is the ability to search for books based on grade level, topic, genre, awards, or a combination of any of these categories. It is also possible to search the catalogue by title, author, illustrator, or keyword. A list feature allows for the creation of a book list that can be shared via email. This feature is somewhat underdeveloped, as it would be more useful if multiple lists could be made, saved, and edited. Despite this small flaw, Kids' Book Finder is an incredible resource for finding quality books for children of all ages, and the detailed search function is a unique feature that makes it worth buying.

LevelFinder ($1.99): Leveling your classroom library just got easier! If your students participate in Accelerated Reader, this app is a must-have tool. It allows the user to find AR levels, point values, and quiz numbers for over 126,000 AR titles. Books can be searched by full or partial title, author, level range, or point range, making it much easier for students to find book suggestions for their reading level. This search function is what makes this particular app unique. However, perhaps the most useful characteristic of LevelFinder is that the database is completely contained within the app. This allows for the app to be used even when a Wi-Fi connection isn't available, making it ideal for schools that are not yet using wireless devices in the classroom.


All of these apps have proved reliable for my students, and each offers a unique literacy-related tool for the classroom. So whether you are looking to spark an interest in reading in your students, provide them with ways to engage with the books they are reading, or simply need help leveling your classroom library, these are worth checking out!

Lindsey Fuller is a sixth grade teacher in Decatur, Illinois. Her interests are classroom technology integration, literacy instruction, and Common Core curriculum development and implementation. You can read more from Lindsey on these topics at her blog, Tales of a 6th Grade Classroom.

© 2013 Lindsey Fuller. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.

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