Reading Raven – App Review

Reading Raven – App Review



Developer: Early Ascent LLC

Price: $3.99


Reading Raven is phonics-based engaging learn-to-read app that provides step-by-step reading lessons designed to help young children build a solid foundation for reading. The developer suggests this app from age 3 to 7 years, but I feel that 3 years is a little young and it is more suited for children from 4 ½ – 5 years.

There are five lessons included in the app, each working on a group of five letters (individual letters, plus words that start with those letters). All letters except Q and X are covered. The /th/ sound is also included.


Tasks include:

  • Letter Recognition: A letter falls, and the child has to match it to the same letter below. As it falls they hear the letter sound, once they correctly match it they hear the letter name, sound and a word beginning with that letter

  • Tracing letters & words: The app shows the letter outline and the correct letter formation and the child then traces the letter/word. The app allows them to go outside the lines, but they do need to touch dots at the start and end of each stroke. When they finish, the outline disappears and you see how they wrote the letter.

  • Letter Sounds: The child hears the sound of a letter and identify which letter (of several) makes that sound

  • Initial Sounds: this is similar to the letter matching, but this time the child has to match the falling letter to a picture of a word that starts with that letter.
  • Word Matching: A word falls and the child has to match it to the same word below.
  • Identifying words: The child hears a word and must pick the written word (of several) that matches it.

  • Building words: The child has to put the letters together in the right order to make a word.

  • Reading words/sentences: The child practices reading short words, then moves on to short and then longer sentences. As the child reads they move their finger along a bar under the words and their voice is recorded and played back to them.


  • Identifying Word Groups: The child has to recognize words that start or end with the same sound and teaches rhyming.


The words are 1-4 letters long and the sentences are 2-8 words long, some sight words and punctuation marks are also introduced. Each lesson has its own theme e.g. it occurs underwater or in the snow or in outer space.

The child earns stickers as a reward for doing the activities, and uses these to decorate Reading Raven’s tree house. The stickers illustrate the words the child has learned and the stickers can be moved around and resized.

App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score   /20

 Speech/Language/Education Apps

(Adapted from




Content is appropriate 1
No in app purchases required for use 1
Help/tutorial Available 1
Students can launch and navigate in the app independently 1
App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps 1


App can be customized for different users 0
App can be used for single user or groups 0
Content/data can easily be exported 0
User data is saved from session to session 1


Design graphics/sounds are appealing 1
App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user 1


App is designed to target speech/language skills 1
App is designed to target auditory processing – phonemic awareness 1
App can be adapted to target speech/language skills 1
App encourages critical thinking and higher level language 0
App has good potential for interaction between user and therapist 1
Response to errors is specific and results in improved performance 1
Targeted skills are practiced in an authentic learning environment 1
App offers complete flexibility to alter settings to meet students needs 1
App can be used across a variety of age/developmental groups 1


Total Points:  16/20 Points

Star Rating

5 Stars 17 – 20 points

4 Stars 13 – 16 points

3 Stars 9 – 12 points

2 Stars 5 – 8 points

1 Star 1 – 4 points


Most things about this app are great and it is difficult to single out any one feature. Some special features that I like include:

  • On any activity, you can have the full voice instructions repeated by tapping the listen icon.
  • You can skip ahead or replay any activity by swiping forward or backward on the Reading Raven character.
  • The app dynamically adapts to the user’s motor skills. If the child is going slower, then the screen adapts to the child’s pace.

You also have the option to work in normal (Abc), uppercase (ABC) or lowercase (abc), and to choose which of four font styles to use. The settings are child-proofed – you have to answer maths questions to access them.

Areas for Improvement
  • From a South African Perspective, the letter /Z/ is pronounced “zee” and the /R/ is pronounced as /err/ so a U.K. voice over would be nice (although I think that our kids are well tuned into the American accent.
  • The app cannot be customized for different users and I couldn’t find a way to “erase” all the previously earned stickers and start over in order to get around the lack of customization.
  • Although the app is easy to navigate independently, there are no progress reports for parents to check and see how the child is doing and therefore the app is probably better used with parent supervision.
  • I would have loved to have given this app a five star rating, but for use as a therapist the inability to customize it for different users, use it in a group and export data was a limiting factor.

For individual use this is a 5 Star App!

Teach your child to read by reinforcing many of the preliteracy skills required for the development of reading.

Get it while it’s on sale at $1.99

Early Signs of Reading Difficulties

Early Signs of Reading Difficulties

Children develop at different rates. While some children with foundational literacy difficulties will catch up to their peers, children who make slow early progress often need extra help. If they don’t get it, they can experience delays in literacy development which ultimately impacts on their academic success.


There are some early signs that your child might be having trouble with foundational literacy skills. These signs involve both oral language (vocabulary and listening skills) and knowledge of word structure (knowing letters, rhyming, sounding out and blending sounds in simple words).

3-4 years

Seek help or advice if most of the time your child has trouble with three or more of the following activities:

  • Telling you what action is going on in a picture book (running, barking, eating)
  • Using all of the necessary words to make a complete sentence – for example, ‘I’m going to the zoo’ rather than ‘ me going zoo’
  • Listening to an adult read to her on a regular basis
  • Remembering a previously read book when shown its cover
  • Showing an awareness of how books are handled
  • Naming simple objects represented in books
  • Concentrating on and responding to print, such as the letters in names, signs and so on
  • Scribbling to make shapes that look like letters
  • Playing with words and making rhyming words. Children particularly enjoy making up “rude” rhymes. E.g. hum, bum, mum
  • Repeating at least parts of nursery rhymes.


5 – 6 years

Seek help or advice if most of the time your child can’t do the things listed above, and struggles with three or more of the following.

In spoken language:
  • Understanding everyday spoken directions
  • Incorporating new words when he speaks, and noticeably using longer sentences (often more than five words)
  • Recognising the beginning of words and sounds that rhyme, and producing examples
  • Breaking simple words into their parts (syllables or single sounds), and putting sounds together to make words
  • Using the proper endings of words – for example, ‘He played soccer with me’ rather than ‘He play soccer with me’


In reading:
  • Showing interest in books and reading
  • Trying to read – for example, your child should recognize their own name, brands (McDonald’s ‘M’, Stop Signs, Woolworths etc.) Recognizes the sounds of letters and makes references like, ‘that one starts the same as my name, or snakes start with the same letter that Stop does..
    • Following the sequence of events in stories
    • Relating what happens in books to her own life events
    • Listening attentively when books are read aloud, deriving meaning and pleasure from it.

In understanding print concepts:
  • Knowing that words in print are different from pictures, and are there to be read
  • Observing and commenting on print in different settings, such as on TV, food packets and so on
  • Appreciating the different purposes of print – for example, prices, shopping lists, recipes, assembly instructions
  • Knowing that each letter in the alphabet has a name and a sound, and being able to name at least eight of them
  • Understanding that writing is a tool for communication, and scribbling his name, messages and so on (regardless of whether you can read what he scribbles).

By the middle of grade one your child should be enjoying learning to read and should be developing a growing sight – word vocabulary such as  the, and, and is. The letter – sound associations should be more automatic and he should be eager to read. The following may be warning signs as you listen to your child read aloud:

  • Doesn’t know the sounds associated with all of the letters
  • Skips words in a sentence and doesn’t stop to self-correct
  • Can’t remember words; sounds out the same word every time it occurs on the page
  • Frequently guesses at unknown words rather than sounding them out

You can also look at your child’s writing for clues about reading difficulty. By the end of Grade R, a child should be writing his name and some other consonants. Mixed uppercase and lower case letters is appropriate.



It’s important not to panic if you see some of these warning signs in your child. Lists of early warning signs can help you be on the lookout; however, there is no precise list of surefire signs of a reading difficulty. Each child is unique and may exhibit only some of the signs. Knowing what to look for can help you decide whether you need to investigate further.

When in doubt check it out.