Free Reading Resources
It’s hard to overestimate the value of reading. Not only does it enrich our lives, but it can profoundly impact a child’s quality of life. Therefore, parents of struggling readers face a daunting challenge. Reading proficiency in grades 3 and 4 provides a sobering assessment of an individual’s future. For instance, 16 percent of students who aren’t proficient readers by third grade won’t graduate from high school.
About 25% of children find reading easy to learn and enjoyable from an early age. Another 35% are able to learn to read with a little bit of added instruction at school and support at home. For the remaining 40% though, reading is not easy, reading problems are common and there are no easy answers.
For these children, parents need to be proactive. For some, it might just be a matter of practice – finding reading resources for parents to use to manage what their child reads. For others, it’s about ways to help their child with the basics, the step before practice.
10 Free Online Resources
Our round-up includes various sources aimed at specific age groups. Many organizations strive to keep the content current with frequent updates. An overriding theme is to make reading fun so that a struggling child won’t feel overwhelmed. Remember that they are sensitive because of the situation. It’s imperative to create a non-threatening environment to foster learning.
Roy: Tale of a Singing Zebra
Roy: Tale of a Singing Zebra targets children from pre-kindergarten through second grade with a variety of activities, including spelling games, guided reading stories, and songs. Students will also learn beginning grammar with punctuation and singulars-plurals of words. The free plan includes many interactive games and the namesake story. A Club Roy membership opens up more activities.
Into the Book
Into the Book isn’t a fancy website. Its emphasis is reading comprehension for kids from kindergarten through sixth grade. The site is a project of PBS Wisconsin Education. It uses several science-based methods, including inferring and visualization, to help children better understand what they’re reading. It’s one of our favorite reading resources for parents.
International Children’s Digital Library
The International Children’s Digital Library is another bare-bones site that contains a treasure trove of reading materials geared toward children from kindergarten through eighth grade. The University of Maryland hosts the site, which offers over 4,000 works available in various languages. Children can select books based on genre, format, and character. Everyone is sure to find their next book here.
Fact Monster is an excellent all-around resource for young students. The section focused on reading includes quizzes and interactive activities of some of the most popular books of all time, including Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss. There are also games like Hangman to help children build their vocabularies with new words. The site is geared toward grade school learners.
Biblionasium adds a social element to reading and learning with its all-things-books platform. Parents can monitor their children’s progress in this kid-safe virtual experience. Users can rate and review what they’re reading. We loved the Pledge to Take 20 incentive that encourages children to devote that time to enjoying books. It can help kids make reading a lifelong habit. Kudos!
Starfall.com targets children from kindergarten through third grade with phonetics. It can be tough for kids first exposed to these concepts. This site makes it easier by using fun ways to teach the lesson without being intimidating. We like that it uses positive reinforcement since struggling readers are often self-conscious and afraid of making mistakes. Some content is free, with paid memberships offering more topics.
FunBrain is a site your child can visit from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, with books available to read online. The site is well-organized to help parents choose appropriate materials. It also includes games to teach additional skills that can help with comprehension with others just for fun. You’ll also find math challenges for an overall learning website.
Reading Rockets is a longtime favorite among teachers and parents. We appreciated the site emphasizing parental investment in their children’s reading skills, given its importance in life. It sends a worthwhile message while empowering adults to take action. It has specific resources for helping struggling readers, which makes it a stand-out on our list of reading resources for parents.
National Geographic Explorer Magazine
National Geographic Explorer Magazine differs from many sites on our list since it isn’t one with active learning programs but a collection of materials geared for kids kindergarten through fifth grade. It encourages discovery with its digital magazine of science topics. It offers an excellent way to make reading fun for students who enjoy the subject and need to start with basic concepts.
PBS Kids has so many resources that it can almost seem overwhelming—for parents! We loved the benchmarks it includes by age to help parents understand what milestones their children should achieve to stay on course for proficiency. The site includes a lot of activities so that kids can make the connection from reading to doing to comprehension. It’s one of the best ones out there and worth a look.
AdLit.org works with older students to hone their reading ability and teach new skills like writing. It also uses games but extends into various subjects that these adolescents will encounter in their schooling, such as social studies and science. We like that the lessons are in line with learning standards for ensuring your child is where they must be to stay proficient for their age level.
ReadingBear.org is a well-designed site for teaching youngsters their letters. The layout is brilliant, going from simple to more complex combinations. The cute illustrations and drawings create a non-stressful way for children to learn without even realizing what it is. It’s just fun! It provides an excellent way for parents of pre-K kids to start them on the right path to learning how to read.
Some children need more help
The essential thing is for parents to encourage their children to read while making it fun. The positive associations kids make as youngsters can have far-reaching effects not just on their academic careers but their life success.
This of course is a balance. Making sure not to press too hard and create negative connections to reading is offset by the value of early intervention.
Many children will work through their reading difficulties by 3rd or 4th grade. But many won’t, and no matter how many reading resources for parents you find, it’s not enough. if by then, your child is still struggling, you may want to consider a reading intervention like Gemm Learning.