O-M-Gee there’s an App for that

By March 2, 2016 BlogPost 2 Comments

When you think back to when you were a child and learning to read what memory come to mind? For me a lot of children’s poetry books come to mind, and my parents spending a tireless amount of time helping me through words like orange and know that I thought were too difficult. I’m sure  lots of you have similar experiences.

The generation of children that are learning to read know are having a totally different experience. One of my dear friends is currently teaching the four year old she nannies how to read. During one of our recent conversations I asked her who she tackles that huge task. Expecting a longwinded answer about sitting down and putting in the face-to-face effort, I was floored when she responded with “Oh, there’s an app for that!”

At first I thought that it was ridiculous that teaching technology has overtaken the role of teaching literacy – I mean what can be better than face-to-face effort and forcing your child to read aloud to you!? But then the more I thought about it the more I realized that we’ve always used technology to help teach to read (at least for those of us born in the 90s). We utilized resources like LeapFrog and similar reading tech. It only seems so shocking because many of us don’t really think of the early stages of reading technology to be actual technology. I mean, what’s a LeapFrog device to an IPad?

So really what I want to know – what are your thoughts on reading technology?


  • Ashley says:

    Some of my family members who have small children let them play learning games on the iPad and I think it’s really interesting. The older kids play Minecraft and the younger kids play simpler games. There was one game that the younger kids played that was about having a party, where the player had to choose what kind of party they were throwing. They had to read the label or at least recognize the image representing the label like a birthday party or a holiday party. Then they had to give three guests either a gift, juice, or a dessert. The order of these items wasn’t predictable, so they had to listen to and follow verbal instructions. They had to know that juice goes in the cup, that apple juice is a golden color and grape juice is purple. They had to read the names of the party-goers to know who was who, and who got what in the order spoken. They had to actively slide a slice of cake on to a plate, so it was an active experience. There was a lot of stuff going on. The nice thing about the iPad versus the LeapFrog is that when they closed the App they could play another similarly formulated game made by different companies for that platform, whereas the LeapFrog was limited to what content their company released. I don’t think it should overtake reading aloud, but it’s a nice supplement to sneak some reinforcement into playtime.

  • Theresa B Theresa B says:

    I’m all for reading technology, as long as it doesn’t completely erase the “reading aloud to your parents/having your parents read to you” option. My favorite form of learning-to-read technology as a child was children’s books on cassette. The local library would have the story read on tape and would include the children’s book. That way, you could read the story as the person read aloud. I have a very distinct memory of listening/reading about whales, and then eating hotdogs for lunch and pretending they were krill.

    Connecting this to Ashley’s comment and Gee’s article, if each game teaches the details of a certain semiotic domain, switching between games just means more opportunities for learning. My only worry about some of these reading technologies is that they eliminate children reading aloud. I don’t think being able to interpret instructions or read automatically makes a child capable of reading aloud.

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