Nothing takes the place of a parent who helps their child learn to read. Reading to and with your child does more to develop their love of reading than any technology currently on the market. But that doesn’t mean that parents can’t use online resources as a supplemental tool to boost their child’s reading skills. Below are five interactive websites that may capture your child’s attention and develop their literacy skills in a fun and engaging way.
This award-winning site is free to the public and helps children in preschool through second grade learn how to read. From learning the ABC’s to advanced reading, Starfall uses a phonics approach with games, riddles, and short stories. As they progress, kids can read on their own, but are always able to click on any difficult words to hear them pronounced.
Beginning readers and their parents will delight in PBS KIDS Island, where kids can play free reading games and activities with their parents, teachers, and caregivers. The games make learning to read fun by featuring many of the popular PBS KIDS characters from Sesame Street, Super Why, and others. Parents and teachers simply register (for free) on the site, login, and then allow their kids to play the games. Once your child completes one level, they can advance to the next more challenging one by playing a different game. A progress tracker allows parents and teachers to see which games their child has completed as well as the skill areas the child has developed. And the best part is that the site is available in both English AND Spanish!
Based on the popular book series by Dr. Seuss, this site is great for intermediate readers. It features a lot of reading games that focus on rhyming – of course! – and word recognition. Kids will love the colorful graphics and recognize the characters from Dr. Seuss’s books. The site includes sections for parents and educators with resources like timelines, printables, special events, and more.
Based out of the United Kingdom, this incredible site full of interactive games, stories and resources for emerging readers. This site covers everything from sentence structure (capital letters, punctuation) to grammar, spelling, lesson plans, and worksheets. A definite treasure for parents with children learning to read.
Reading is Fundamental has created this fantastic site that encourages reading and writing with games designed for more advanced readers. In addition to the activities, there are also interviews with popular authors and illustrators, animated stories and songs, and even a section where kids can search for books based on title, author, keyword, age and category. The site includes bilingual resources in Spanish.
Created by the National Center for Family Literacy(NCFL), Wonderopolis is an online site for older children that encourages reading and learning through the exploration of daily “wonders.” Every day the site posts a question, such as Who Lives on Easter Island? or What Do Bees Do in Winter? or Why is Cheddar Cheese Orange? Once a child clicks on a wonder, they can then read more about it, learn additional vocabulary words, try a craft or activity, and watch videos or see pictures. Kids can even nominate a wonder of their own for the site.
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.