8 Apps For Struggling Adolescent Readers


by Hope Mulholland

One of my most important tasks as a reading teacher is matching students to books that they will love.

For struggling readers, that can be more challenging because they don’t yet know what types of books they will enjoy.

One of my favorite things about all the new devices that are in our classrooms is the ready access to millions of books. Many students already use Kindle, Nook, or iBooks to download books to their devices, but there are several other great apps that offer engaging, high interest texts for our students.

And as any teacher of literacy knows (so, all teachers), once readers reach adolescence and are still struggling, whether it’s with phonemic awareness, oral fluency, or critical reading strategies, the social and confidence issues swell alongside those literacy-based. This makes resources that can actually help them without embarrassing them or making them feel like a struggling reader all the more critical.   

So then, this list, 8 apps that can help address the unique needs of a struggling adolescent reader as they progress towards not just independent reading, but a lifelong love of literacy.

Google Play – Similar to the other popular reading apps, Google Play allows users access to a large collection of books to download onto their devices. The great thing about these online bookstores is that it allows instant access to the next book in a series which can keep struggling readers motivated.

Overdrive Media Console- Overdrive allows you to download audiobooks and ebooks directly to your device for free. The app works with your public library to give you access to electronic media. Once you log in with your library card, you can check out books just like you are visiting your library. The best thing is the books are automatically returned when the lending period is over so you don’t have to worry about lost books or late fees.

Storia – This Scholastic iPad App offers a variety of ebooks that can be purchased from the scholastic website. Parents or teachers can set up bookshelves for individual students and assign them books to read. There are highly motivating texts available for all ages and some of the books are enhanced with games and activities. The reading reports section tracks how much time the student has spent reading, what e-books they have finished, and even the words that they have looked up in the built-in dictionary.

Aesop-  This free interactive ebook is presented by the Library of Congress. It includes Aesop’s fables as well as color pictures, videos, and interactive animations. These short, classic stories continue to be engaging in digital form.

Middle School Confidential- This popular ebook follows a group of students as they maneuver the challenges of middle school. Students will enjoy the topic as well as the vivid pictures and audio effects. The series also has a sequel which continues to follow the characters of the first app.

Kid’s Discover-  This app features the Kids Discover magazine which features engaging science and social studies themed topics such as Weather, Lewis & Clark, and Oceans. The iPad app includes articles as well as interactive items such as picture slideshows and short video clips. Subscriptions are available or you can purchase by topic. The Kids Discover website also includes free lesson plans for teachers as a companion to the issues.

Marvel Comics-  This app features vivid and exciting comics from the Marvel Universe. Readers will enjoy familiar characters like Spiderman and the X-Men. There are both free comics and in-app purchases available. You can also consider Comixology.

Brain Pop- The Common Core State Standards focus on students being able to comprehend and respond not only to written text, but also multi-media. Brainpop has a video a day that students can watch and then do a quick quiz.  The videos are on varied academic topics such as Recycling, Mars, The Civil War, Main Idea, and Angles.