Learning Apps & Tools

“R” Is for Reading Programs for Kids

Reading doesn’t come naturally to all kids, and if your child has ADHD, then there’s a chance she might be struggling. Check out these six programs designed to help boost reading performance while also having a bit of fun.

A young girl with ADHD using educational software to help her in school.
A young girl with ADHD using educational software to help her in school.

There’s a fair amount of software out there for children just starting to read or having trouble doing so because of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Despite the relative simplicity of the programs and graphics, many options do a good job of allowing kids to explore the sounds and meanings of words at their own pace, and with a straightforward interface. Pictures come alive, games make the exercises fun, and, on the whole, the classroom experience is complemented in a compelling way. Read on to discover our picks for the best reading software for kids.


Not all reading software must be installed on your computer – more and more websites are popping up, letting kids do their reading online. Starfall.com offers four separate programs, each with their own activities to facilitate reading in kindergarten-age children. In “Ten Little Snowmen,” kids follow written instructions for building an animated snowman. In “Four Leaf Clover,” they click on animals when prompted.

The bottom line: Starfall’s fun, free games can help teach reading.

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Clifford Interactive Storybooks

When you’re exploring a new realm – like reading – there’s sometimes comfort in a familiar face. If your kids are Clifford the Big Red Dog fans, they’ll enjoy this straightforward series of online, interactive stories. By selecting a word, choosing a missing letter, or matching a sound, the reader gets to advance the plot of these simple Clifford tales. They’re brief but well done.

The bottom line: Clifford’s big, lovable mug guides kids in online word games.

Reader Rabbit: Learn to Read With Phonics

Windows & Mac
Reader Rabbit is an early-reading program populated by a handful of animated characters dedicated to making phonics fun. Kids can follow a regimented word-for-every-letter routine or else explore a variety of activities at their own pace. Reading is taught via sounding words out and memorizing sight words.

The bottom line: Don’t like dogs? Try a rabbit.

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Phonics and Reading Excelerator

Windows & Mac

The four-disc CD-ROM set weaves phonic rules, consonant sounds, short and long vowels, and other key concepts into a collection of entertaining activities. Kids eventually move up to synonyms and homonyms, creative thinking skills, and writing proficiency.

The bottom line: An extensive collection of phonics-based activities.

Language Tune-Up Kit

This multimedia CD-ROM was designed for children 6 and older, reading at a preschool to fourth-grade reading level. Phonics is at the heart of the approach, using the so-called Orton-Gillingham method. Users automatically start at the appropriate first lesson after taking a simple placement test.

The bottom line: This scrappy software package can boost your youngster’s reading skills.

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Interactive e-books have proven useful for some new and struggling readers, and the Raz-Kids website offers a wide array of titles – kids can listen to an audio reading while making their way through the text. Online quizzes are available too. You must subscribe to access the books.

The bottom line: A hefty subscription fee gets you access to instructional content.

This article is reprinted with permission from GreatSchools.org.