8 Fantastic Apps for Summer Reading on iPads

To engage young readers over the summer, hand them an iPad and loaded with eBooks. Here are just eight of the many reading apps available.

June 25, 2014 Updated May 23, 2016
Photo credit: ©Andre Kadow/500px

We've all heard of the summer slide, that period between the end and beginning of the school year when children can lose the gains they've made as readers. It's so important for them to continue reading throughout the year even when school is out of session. If your students have access to tablets, they can prevent the summer slide by downloading e-books to their device. Many of these choices give kids the option to read independently or listen to a book read aloud to them.

Bringing families into this conversation before the end-of-school-year bustle is essential. Send a link to a booklist in a class email, share your favorites in a weekly newsletter, and raffle promo codes or giftcards at an end-of-year event. There are many reasons why digital texts are so wonderful for reading at home, including the extras that they offer kids. These special features support struggling readers and make sure that children are engaged in the story.

Here's a list of summer-themed texts that are great for grabbing the attention of elementary students.

Newsela (Free; subscription required for full access)

Reading on iPads can take many forms, and I love the new mobile app from Newsela. This powerful resource for readers shares news articles daily -- at the perfect reading level for children. Kids and their parents can toggle between different Lexile levels to find articles that are just right for independent reading. It's a great way for families to include informational text on their summer reading list. The Newsela app lets you easily search for articles so that kids are sure to find a topic to pique their interest.

The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Car Trip ($3.99)

This interactive e-book from the Berenstain Bears series is a great summer read. Students can read by themselves or watch the words light up on the screen as the narrator reads it aloud. With Too Much Car Trip, students can listen to music and sound effects or tap a word to hear it pronounced for them.

OverDrive (Free; use your library card for full access)

OverDrive is a fantastic free app that connects to your library card. Many libraries across the country will let you access e-books through this app. If you're not sure how to set it up, bring your iPad to your local library. I know that the folks at my local branch of the NYPL were happy to help me register and download my first library e-book.

Rainy Days: A Stella and Sam Adventure ($1.99)

This app tells a story through animation. Perfect for young students, Rainy Days: A Stella and Sam Adventure is an engaging narrative told through dialogue between the two main characters. There are activities built in throughout the story to help children stay engaged as they follow Stella and Sam on this rainy day.

Epic! - Unlimited Books for Kids (Subscription required for full access)

This e-reader app is designed for students age 12 and under. Epic! is a subscription-based iPad app that gives users access to thousands of books and the ability to set up user profiles for different family members. Kids can earn badges for reading accomplishments and keep track of how many books they've finished. Discover the Ocean is great summer choice from Epic!'s library for students who want to know more about life at the coast. Children preparing for the new school year and excited to enter the next grade will like Step Fourth, Mallory.

Sesame Street eBooks for iPads (Free; subscription required for full access)

With over 100 titles to choose from, this e-book collection from Sesame Street has plenty of material for early readers. Youngsters starting a new year at school will want to add Get Ready for School: 123s to their summer reading list, while students who won't be visiting any barnyard animals this summer will like Abby Cadabby's First Visit to the Farm.

Little Critter at Scout Camp ($1.99)

Fitting into the summer theme, this e-book from the Little Critter series follows the main character as he goes to camp. The story by Mercer Mayer can be read independently by students or auto-played as they sit back and listen while the narrator takes them through the story. With this app, students will see text on the screen along with the familiar pictures by this well-known children's book author and illustrator.

Tacky Goes to Camp ($3.99)

Children who are missing the cold weather but still love a summer-themed book should check out Tacky Goes to Camp. This app follows the title character, who happens to be a penguin, through a summer camp adventure. An extra special feature is the app's ability to record your own narration.

Do you have a favorite e-book app that is perfect for summertime? Share it below!

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  • Literacy
  • Technology Integration
  • English Language Arts
  • K-2 Primary
  • 3-5 Upper Elementary

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