Reading Raven

App review by
Carolyn Koh, Common Sense Media
Reading Raven App Poster Image
Learn-to-read games offer kids solid lessons at own pace.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn the basic concepts of reading, word recognition, writing, and phonics in Reading Raven. The app presents exercises in a way to make reading practice fun using a variety of different activities and environments. Incorporating features such as user profiles, progress tracking, a better rewards system, and more fun elements to engage children would give the app a boost. With parent involvement, Reading Raven can be a great app for helping to teach and reinforce early reading concepts.

Ease of Play

Reading Raven's instructions are voiced and enunciated clearly. Kids can tap icons if they need to hear the instructions again. The app is kid-friendly and easy to navigate.

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Consumerism

The free iPhone version includes one lesson; additional lessons require an in app purchase ranging from 99 cents to $2.99. The HD version for the iPad ($3.99) includes all lessons.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Reading Raven is an educational app designed to teach young kids reading skills, from pre-reading to reading short sentences, using voice-over instructions and mini-games. Parents can customize for three age ranges: 3 and up, 4 and up, and 5 and up. Parents should know that the free iPhone version only includes one lesson to try out the app; upgrading requires an in-app purchase. The HD iPad version ($3.99) includes all lessons.

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What's it about?

Reading Raven stars a bird decked out in aviator glasses and a scarf, carrying books on its back. The raven guides kids from lesson to lesson as they engage in activities such as letter tracing, recording their own voice reading words, guiding word bubbles to a circus lion's mouth, and more; there are 11 types of games in all. Kids encounter various animals and other fun objects, from flying penguins to fly-catching frogs, as they tap to respond.

Is it any good?

Reading Raven introduces kids to every letter of the alphabet and coaches kids from letter recognition and phonics to tracing letters and writing words and forming simple sentences. It also allows kids to record and play back the words they learn, which is a nifty feature. Parents can access a guide as well as set options based on their child's reading level. Also, exercises can be skipped or repeated by swiping forward or backward on the Raven character. With great voice-overs and a smart, kid-friendly interface, this is an app kids can use independently at their own pace.

However, the app is probably better used with parent supervision and in short bursts, as kids could easily lose interest with the repetition, as there aren't any fun "discovery" events or particularly engaging sounds or rewards. The exercises are similar for each set of letters of the alphabet, although the app keeps it fresh with different environments. The reading/playback can be gamed as there isn't any built-in voice recognition. It's also a good idea for parents to be engaged with their kids as they play because there are no progress reports for parents to check to see how their kids are doing. Even with a few shortcomings, Reading Raven offers solid reading instruction in a fun game format.

App details

For kids who love learning with apps

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