I am trying to assist a family by compiling a list of reading apps for their third grade child with a Specific Learning Disability. The parents have looked at a few apps, but are struggling to find any that are both skill and age appropriate. The child views the apps at her skill level as “babyish” and struggles to engage in them.

Do you have any suggestions for apps that work on basic reading skills yet are more age appropriate for a third (almost fourth) grader? This student has standard scores in the 60s in basic reading skills. She is reading words on a sound by sound basis and struggles to blend sounds together. She lacks automaticity with sounds as well as the basic sight words appropriate for her age. Thank you so much for your time.
Dr. Pierson's Response: 
So good of you to reach out on her behalf! Unfortunately, I don't have any recommendations for you on this question. It is REALLY hard to find stuff that appeals to the older student.

To help with automaticity, I'd recommend reading aloud with text-to-speech software, which she could do wearing a set of headphones in her own room at home & even just whispering. You'd have to teach her how. She could then read text at her reading level and even a bit above. A program that highlights the text while it reads aloud is necessary. The Kindle, for example, will do this.

She might benefit from working with something like Sound Literacy, which we have on the apps page here, but she'd need to do this with guidance as it's really designed as a teaching tool, although after a while she could practice on her own. I am thinking she could learn to read blends, word endings and rime, prefixes, roots, suffixes. As I'm sure you know -- at her age going into 4th grade, morphological awareness must be a part of intervention and practice reading larger chunks of words rather than letter by letter or sound by sound. Sound Literacy is pricey for an app, but as a clinical tool, I like it a lot.

Also, you might want to look at these PhonicBooks. We have the Magic Belt, Totem, and Talisman series that I am reading with really smart, very dyslexic 3rd and 4th graders. They love them! The pictures are great, the text is short, decodable chapters, and the stories are interesting. I don't have the Alba series with a female heroine, but am ordering it.

As I come across any apps, you can be sure I’ll get them up on our Apps page and we’ll highlight them via our e-newsletter. If you do find something, please send it my way so I can get it up on the website.