14 of the most effective apps for struggling or hesitant teenage readers

by TeachThought staff

One of my most important roles as a reading teacher is to match students with books that they will love.

This can be more of a challenge for readers with difficulty, as they do not yet know what types of books they will enjoy.

One of our favorite things about all the new devices in our classrooms is instant access to millions of books. Many students already use Kindle, Nook, or iBooks to download books to their devices, but there are several other great apps out there that provide engaging, engaging texts for our students.

And as every literacy teacher knows (so all teachers), once the readers reach out Adolescence and still struggling with phonemic awareness, oral fluency, or critical reading strategies, social problems and self-confidence swell alongside literacy issues. This makes resources that can actually help them without embarrassing them or making them feel like a struggling reader, all the more critical.

So, this list – apps, Chrome extensions, and website-based tools that can help meet the unique needs of a struggling teenage reader who is focused not only on independent reading but also on a lifelong love of literacy.

Generally, everyone’s iOS version is given below, but in some cases we’ve added the Android version from the Google Play Store or the tool developer’s website itself.

Phonics apps for teenagers and disabled adolescent readers

Teen & Adult Phones Library or TAP Library School Edition

Developer Description: The Teen and Adult Phonics (TAP) Library offers a growing collection of sequential, decipherable digital novels with offbeat, engaging topics designed to appeal to teenagers and adults. Care was taken to create a positive experience for older aspiring readers, especially those with SpLD like dyslexia, ASD, or ADHD.

Mixing board

Developer description: This app allows a parent or teacher to create a series of phonemes that can be substituted and manipulated to create different types of mixing activities. The decks allow users to practice decoding simple words as well as polysyllabic words.


Reword makes reading easier – and faster – by simplifying text, counting complex words, and allowing readers to self-monitor and improve reading comprehension.


Developer description: Lexico Cognition helps to develop language comprehension, vocabulary building, cognitive skills and memory skills in a playful way. Apparently Dictionary is no longer supported.

Phonics genius

An easy-to-use app that provides 6000 words containing patterns of phoneme mixtures for readers to practice certain digraphs and trigraphs.

Visual Attention Therapy Lite

Developer description: Train the brain to move the eyes properly by scanning the screen from left to right. Strengthening this basic skill can improve reading, concentration, memory, attention to detail, and processing speed.

High-interest books for teenagers and disabled adolescent readers


Amazon’s comic book app – obviously graphically intense and often violent and full of complex words, the content sources can often be motivating for readers with difficulty.


Amazon’s eBook shop with examples, Kindle Unlimited and more.


Like Kindle, Nook is Barnes & Noble’s e-book store.


User generated content – for example, other teenagers writing fanfic.

See also How to turn off your iPhone

Vocabulary apps for teenagers


Free flash card tool to easily practice phonetics or vocabulary (or background knowledge).


Learn almost anything through simple games and activities. Similar to Quizlet, it obviously depends on how useful this is to a struggling teen that it is created and used.

For more information, see 12 of the best vocabulary apps for middle and high school students.


Listen to almost any digital document read aloud by a series of artificial intelligence-based voices.

Reading and Writing for Chrome: Use text-to-speech to read words, passages or entire documents aloud with easy-to-understand two-tone highlighting; Text and picture dictionaries to see the meaning of words explained

Unlimited Marvel: This app features lively and exciting comics from the Marvel universe. Readers will enjoy familiar characters like Spiderman and the X-Men. There are both free comics and in-app purchases.

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