14 Apps For Struggling Or Hesitant Adolescent Readers

Tools And Apps To Help Struggling Teen Readers

by TeachThought Staff

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 our 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–apps, chrome extensions, and website-based tools 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.

In general, the iOS version of each is given below but in a some of the cases, we included the Android version from the Google Play Store or the tool developer’s website itself.

Phonics Apps For Teens And Struggling Adolescent Readers

Teen & Adult Phonics Library or TAP Library School Edition

Developer Description: The Teen and Adult Phonics (TAP) Library offers a growing collection of sequential, decodable digital novels with edgy, engaging themes designed to appeal to teenagers and adults. Care has been taken to build a positive experience for older emergent readers, especially those with SpLD such as dyslexia, ASD or ADHD.

Blending Board

Developer Description: This app allows parents or teachers to create a deck of phonemes that can be substituted and manipulated to create various kinds of blending activities. The decks enable users to practice decoding simple words, and multisyllabic words as well.


Reword makes reading easier–and faster–by simplifying text, counting complex words, and allowing readers to self-monitor and improve reading comprehension.

Lexico Cognition

Developer Description: Lexico Cognition helps to develop language understanding, vocabulary building, cognitive and memory skills in a playful way. It appears that Lexico is no longer being supported.

Phonics Genius

An easy-to-use app that offers 6000 words containing patterns of phoneme blends so readers can practice specific digraphs and trigraphs.

Visual Attention Therapy Lite

Developer Description: Train the brain to move the eyes correctly by scanning from left to right across the screen. Strengthening this essential skill can improve reading, concentration, memory, attention to detail, and speed of processing.

High-Interest Books For Teens And Struggling Adolescent Readers


Amazon’s comic books app–obviously graphically intense and often violent and full of complex words, the content sources can often be motivating for struggling readers.


Amazon’s eBook store with samples, Kindle Unlimited, and more.


Like Kindle, Nook is Barnes & Noble’s eBook store.


User-generated content–other teens writing fan-fiction, for example.

See also How To Turn Off Your iPhone

Vocabulary Apps For Teens


Free flash card tool for easy practice on phonics or vocabulary (or background knowledge).


Learn almost anything through simple games and activities. Much like Quizlet, how useful this is for a struggling teen reader obviously depends on it is created and used.

For more, see 12 of The Best Vocabulary Apps For Middle And High School Students.

Other Tools For Teen Readers


Listen to almost any digital document read aloud by a range of artificial intelligence-based voices.

Read&Write for Chrome: Use text-to-speech to hear words, passages, or whole documents read aloud with easy-to-follow dual color highlighting; Text and picture dictionaries to see the meaning of words explained

Marvel Unlimited: 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.