The 10 Best Paid or Free Online Reading Programs Listed

Sometimes getting kids to learn their ABCs is like trying to get them to eat their veggies — tricky. Fortunately, there are a lot of online reading programs to choose from. Unfortunately, not all of them are that great. So we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best free and paid-for online reading programs for kids of all ages.

Below you’ll see information about why we’ve singled these programs out: the program focus, teaching techniques, target students, how to sign up, the recommended age groups, downloadable apps, and if it’s not free, the cost. Their accessible, easy-to-use interfaces, scientifically proven success, and methods for teaching kids how to excel at reading and language skills are just a few of the reasons these programs are the best and most comprehensive the internet has to offer.

The Five Best Free Online Reading Programs

1. Book Adventure

  • Why It’s on Our List: Book Adventure takes a motivational approach to learning and gained over 446,000 participants in their first year alone.
  • Focus: To improve students’ reading levels and comprehension skills
  • Teaching Technique: Motivates students to read independently and take comprehension quizzes for online rewards
  • Target Student: Someone who is or wants to be self-motivated
  • How to Sign Up: Register as a student, teacher, or parent with an email address 
  • Age Range: 5-14
  • App: None
  • Cost: Free

2. Camp Wonderopolis

  • Why It’s on Our List: Camp Wonderopolis boasts STEM-based activities that are perfect for keeping kids’ minds engaged over the summer.
  • Focus: To promote and improve literacy by providing reading activities for kids during the summer
  • Teaching Technique: Provides interactive videos, readings, vocabulary, and instructions for at-home activities and crafts to promote literacy through varying topics and subjects
  • Target Student: Someone who needs or prefers a variety of learning techniques
  • How to Sign Up: Register as a camper (kids) or counselor (parents) with an email address
  • Age Range: 7-14
  • App: None
  • Cost: Free

3. Read Theory

  • Why It’s on Our List: Read Theory conducted a comprehensive study that showed 80% of their participants improved their reading skills after using the program.
  • Focus: To improve reading and writing abilities through comprehension-based activities
  • Teaching Technique: Adapts to students’ existing comprehension and writing abilities to improve them at a steady rate with reading-based activities
  • Target Student: Someone who already enjoys reading and prefers simple, straightforward tasks
  • How to Sign Up: Students and teachers can register with an email address 
  • Age Range: 6-17
  • App: None
  • Cost: Free

4. Reading Bear

  • Why It’s on Our List: Reading Bear has great reviews, has been featured on education blogs, and is simple to use.
  • Focus: To teach young readers basic vocabulary and phonetic skills
  • Teaching Technique: Uses presentations and interactive slideshows at varying speeds to match the students’ capabilities
  • Target Student: Someone who likes short sessions and to go at his or her own pace
  • How to Sign Up: Register with an email address
  • Age Range: 4-7
  • App: None
  • Cost: Free

5. Teach Your Monster to Read

  • Why It’s on Our List: Teach Your Monster to Read is an award-winning program with excellent reviews from parents and educators.
  • Focus: To teach beginning or struggling readers literacy skills through computer games
  • Teaching Technique: Captures students’ attention by having them interact with colorful computer games that have engaging characters and storylines
  • Target Student: Someone with an active imagination, or someone who may get bored with traditional phonics programs
  • How to Sign Up: Register as a parent or teacher with an email address
  • Age Range: 3-6
  • App: While this is a free online program, the accompanying app is available for $4.99 for both Apple and Android devices.
  • Cost: Free

The Five Best Paid Online Reading Programs

1. ABCmouse

  • Why It’s on Our List: ABCmouse is a well-known program with proven success rates and raving reviews.
  • Focus: To move with early readers as they learn early literacy skills and beyond
  • Teaching Technique: Helps students learn, recognize, and understand words with videos, illustrations, games, and photographs
  • Target Student: Someone who learns well with interactive programs and thrives with reward systems
  • How to Sign Up: Register with an email address and credit card information
  • Age Range: 2-8
  • App: A free app is available for download for both Apple and Android devices.
  • Cost: $7.95/month

2. Adapted Mind

  • Why It’s on Our List: Adapted Mind adapts itself to the individual learner, and 95% of participants show improvement.
  • Focus: To improve reading comprehension and basic literacy skills
  • Teaching Technique: Provides varying activities for reading, spelling, and vocabulary, while adapting to the students’ existing skills with tests 
  • Target Student: Someone who likes a systematic and step-by-step way of learning
  • How to Sign Up: Register with an email address and credit card information
  • Age Range: 6-12
  • App: None
  • Cost: $9.95/month

3. Headsprout

  • Why It’s on Our List: Headsprout, prior to being introduced online, was tested in classroom settings where it was proven to improve test scores, engage struggling students, and help special needs students learn to read.
  • Focus: To teach reading comprehension and basic literacy skills
  • Teaching Technique: Provides student’s with episodic lessons with engaging characters, and adapts to existing abilities
  • Target Student: Homeschooled students who need a more comprehensive program
  • How to Sign Up: Register with an email address and credit card information
  • Age Range: 5-11
  • App: Headsprout’s app is available for Apple devices, Android devices, and Kindle Fire.
  • Cost: $199.95/year

4. Hooked on Phonics

  • Why It’s on Our List: Hooked on Phonics has been granted numerous awards over the years, has a recognizable name, and it loved by parents and teacher, alike.
  • Focus: To teach critical reading skills
  • Teaching Technique: Promotes learning, practicing, and reading with videos, games, and stories
  • Target Student: Beneficial for students who have focus issues
  • How to Sign Up: Register with an email address and credit card information
  • Age Range: 5-10
  • App: The app, free to download, but with in-app purchases, is available for download for both Apple and Android devices.
  • Cost: $6.99/month

5. Time4Learning

  • Why It’s on Our List: Time4Learning was given the Homeschool Seal of Approval in 2017 and has positive reviews from parents.
  • Focus: To promote their five steps of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and reading fluency
  • Teaching Technique: Promotes an easy to use web platform that provides engaging and fun lessons, videos, worksheets, and assessments
  • Target Student: Geared towards a variety of students: homeschoolers, special needs, gifted, etc.
  • How to Sign Up: Register with your credit card and personal information
  • Age Range: 4-17
  • App: None
  • Cost: $19.95-30.00/month 

In Summary

Choosing a reading program for your kids can be difficult because of all the options that exist. This list, however, provides you with the best reading programs the internet has to offer based on their success rates, interfaces, and teaching methods. So whether you’re looking for a free program like Book Adventure or a paid program like ABCmouse, your child’s literacy skills can greatly improve with the use of one of these online reading programs.