Best online learning to read tools for children

Looking for online books where a child can read aloud or read along? This article provides an insight into the best types of e-reading sources that are easily available online to make reading books and learning words an enriching experience.

Getting a good grasp of words and improving vocabulary is something that any parent would long for, for their children, and not merely learning alphabets and numbers. That is why they acquire books, perhaps from a popular local book store or an online bookshop, a public library (yes, there are still a few of those around) or an online e-commerce site, or perhaps even from the local kabadiwala (scrap dealer).

Why e-reading is popular

A book for a young child opens the world of words through the excellent technique of narration supported by fascinating pictures. The narration may not be necessarily a story, but conveying a concept, let's say of friendship, or providing informative information about something, such as what a fireman does. It is possible that space constraints or the reluctance to buy expensive books may make parents hesitant to set up a library in their home. Hence there is a growing niche of easily accessible online sources for e-reading. These can be considered in two broad categories, one for independent readers and another for those who need a little help, the latter again with multiple options.

Types of online reading tools

Just me

The first and most obvious kind of online reading tool is the one that enables a child to read independently. There is, of course, Kindle, one of the most popular sources of reading for both adults and children alike. However, it is not accessible to one and all since you do need the device itself to be able to read an e-book. So the next best thing is to look up sites that have a similar facility to download the book you wish to read on your own smartphone or Tab or laptop and read it at leisure. Know about StoryWeaver, a fun site for both independent readers and for kids who want to read along.

Me and a voice

Readers of a younger age love something that captures their imagination and, at the same time, is easy to follow and understand. So here comes into the picture the fun read aloud and read along with books. All you have to do is to click on a book from the options available and the video that opens on the screen literally reads aloud, word by word, the entire book, right from the title on the cover page to the very end of the last page. In the case of a read-along book, what happens is that as the background voice reads out a sentence, each word gets highlighted in turn, so the child is easily following the text, word by word, to keep track in a systematic manner what is happening in the story.

Me and a narrator

This is the second type of "a little help" that was mentioned earlier. It is nice sometimes not to have a disembodied voice but an actual person narrating a story. There are people like Natasha Sharma, a brand-manager turned author of children's books, who provides a humorous touch in her narrative videos on her Facebook page. You can search online for book-narration videos of stand-alone authors like Paro Anand, Anushka Ravishankar, and others. Then there is the much loved Ruskin Bond, who narrated short stories for children on All India Radio (A.I.R.) in May. You can also check out Ranga Shankara's YouTube channel in which prominent theatre artistes are narrating stories of children through the Little Cloud read-alound series. Similarly, there is Karadi Tales. This Chennai-based publisher of children's books creates delightful Indian-based content for audio, video and picture books and has uploaded storytelling sessions at their FB pages.

Finally, if you are looking for an e-reading app to download on your smartphone that can also be used offline, try Google's Read Along (Bolo) .


While the availability of these e-reading sources, especially in an unprecedented scenario, is an easy and convenient way to provide interesting avenues for learning words, improving vocabulary and enhancing the ability to read, one should not wholly rely on them. Remember that online hours should be restricted to short time slots and not necessarily on a daily basis. It is important to not let the child become dependent on online screens and get them immersed in other interesting offline activities as well.

An addendum: A child sits alone, immersed in a book, perhaps longing for someone to explain something that is not understood or share the excitement of being able to read, but nobody to ask and nobody to share with. It is hoped that the parents reading this article are stirred by this poignant image to find some time to sit with their own children and read aloud or read along. You see, the role of a parent is not just to acquire books.

Article by Vandana
Vandana is based in India with over 15 years experience as a freelance writer. Writing, no doubt, is her primary passion! Having learned the art of blogging from ISC, Vandana is enjoying the thrills of blogging, taking pleasure in sharing information & getting good pageviews at her various blogs.

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