Finding the best reading program for kids with dyslexia can sometimes be challenging, with so many options that appear to be similar. But, if you look closer, you’ll realize that different reading programs have unique strengths. Some use multisensory methods, meaning they use sights and sounds to engage the child, whereas other programs focus on phonemic awareness or manipulating sounds in words.
Whether you’re trying to help a child with dyslexia overcome their reading difficulties or support beginner readers early on, we have compiled a list of research-backed programs worth considering!
Effective Reading Programs for Children with Dyslexia
In the process of deciding which reading program to use for a child’s learning disability, it helps to learn more about the specific areas they’re struggling with. For example, if the child doesn’t have difficulty with phonics but finds spelling more challenging, then a phonemic awareness-based program may not be the best choice for them.
With that, a parent or caregiver has to be aware of specific characteristics that make a good reading program. These include:
An online reading program that has a multisensory approach means that it incorporates videos, animations, sounds, and movements (in that it lets the child physically interact with letters and words) so that the child can increase their reading success.
One popular example of multisensory instruction for dyslexic students is the Orton-Gillingham approach. It’s a method that teaches spelling and reading in a way that’s structured and highly individualized. In addition to online reading programs, many private schools and public schools use the Orton-Gillingham approach to enhance reading comprehension.
Structured and Sequential Instruction
For a reading program to be effective, it also needs to be structured and sequential. Essentially, this means that the program covers basic concepts in a logical and clear manner. With this approach, struggling readers are able to have a strong foundation.
In a typical classroom setting, this would look like a teacher in an English class explaining all important concepts of language, from phonology to semantics, and then providing plenty of examples and opportunities to practice reading.
Individualized Learning and Assessment
The reality is that no two students with dyslexia experience the exact same difficulties. Although dyslexia is a learning disability, it can have different manifestations and kids vary in their weaknesses. For this reason, a reading program should be tailored to their specific needs.
The best reading programs always include an initial evaluation of the child’s strengths and weaknesses. For instance, this assessment may look at their current reading level (which has nothing to do with their grade level in school) and then recommend the most appropriate level for the child to start with.
Visual Aids and Adaptive Technology
Visual aids, such as letter patterns and animated characters, are extremely beneficial for explaining concepts in a more understandable way. This is because students with dyslexia think mostly in visuals or pictures — which is one of their strengths.
Adaptive technology, on the other hand, are features in an online reading program that makes it easier for dyslexic students to engage with a reading material. For example, a student has the option to adjust the pace of the text displayed on screen to accommodate their current reading speed.
As you probably already know, a specific learning disability like dyslexia would greatly benefit from systematic phonics instruction rather than a “whole language” reading approach, which is common among non-dyslexic children.
Keep an eye on reading programs that reinforce phonic awareness, whether through games, puzzles, or practice sessions.
5 Best Online Reading Programs for Kids with Dyslexia
Children with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia require additional support. Thankfully, a wide variety of programs are now available, especially those designed for struggling readers.
Here are the best reading programs for dyslexia to help students learn at home or anywhere:
1. Kindness Ripples Reading Tutoring
Kindness Ripples Reading Tutoring is a one-on-one and small group teaching reading program that aims to overcome reading difficulties through evidence-based strategies. Unlike other reading programs, kids with dyslexia gain direct access to Gregory Bertsch himself, an experienced reading specialist and the driving force behind the program.
What makes Kindness Ripples Reading Tutoring one of the best dyslexia programs is that it incorporates empathy, kindness, and patience — all of which create a nurturing environment that helps children become amazing readers!
- Includes a free assessment
- 1-on-1 learning sessions or private tutoring for 1 hour
- Reading and writing classes include phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension, poetry, story writing, and more
- Option to join a small group
- Available scholarships for selected families
- Music and songs are incorporated during sessions that make learning more fun
- Perfect for the homeschooling mom looking for remote learning solutions that are as engaging as on-campus classes
- Combined with family support, this program helps the child master reading in a short time
- The frequency of classes can be adjusted according to the child’s needs
- Proven success working with struggling students in a regular classroom environment
Try Kindness Ripples Reading Tutoring
2. All About Reading
All About Reading is an Orton–Gillingham reading program that uses explicit instruction so that the child thoroughly learns essential concepts and skills one lesson at a time. It engages multiple senses, including sight, sound, and touch across their interactive kits and materials. This program is a wonderful choice for beginning readers and older students alike, even adults!
Moms of kids with dyslexia have mentioned how this program helped with their child’s confidence and daily reading success. And if in case parents find that the program isn’t compatible with their child, All About Reading offers a one-year money-back guarantee.
- Readiness assessments for every level
- With research-based, level-specific learning materials
- Covers phonemic awareness skills, spelling rules, and more
- Includes full-color graphic novels, games, and other activities
- Free resources include ebooks and checklists
- Can be used to assist students of all ages (pre-readers, teens, and adults)
- Reading instruction in as little as 20 minutes each day
- Helps busy parents, educators, and tutors teach reading in the most efficient way
3. Readability Tutor
Having received multiple awards, Readability Tutor is a fully interactive program that uses AI to better understand a child’s needs. According to Readability Tutor, the AI and your child eventually adapt to one another as they continue using the program.
Designed for kids at levels K-6, it builds their language comprehension using colorful fiction and non-fiction books that provide effective reading instruction. First, the program gives a prompt that your child reads, and finally, the AI tutor corrects and encourages them in real-time!
- Their app includes a 30-day free trial
- Allows for 3 readers per account
- Daily and weekly reading reports with information on reading comprehension, speed, reading times, and accuracy
- Fun grade-level content
- Kids can easily navigate the app and parents can easily monitor their child’s improvement
- Families can be assured of privacy since the app won’t share data with anyone
- While it helps with teaching students, it doesn’t replace the roles of teachers and parents
4. Dyslexia Connect
Founded in 2010 and accredited by the International Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia Connect uses the Orton-Gillingham approach for increased effectiveness and engagement. The program’s founder, Peter Groth, has personally helped students with dyslexia.
Besides their Orton-Gillingham approach, the program claims to provide individualized tutoring that is also enjoyable. Parents have successfully used it to improve their child’s reading and language comprehension and retention, and highly recommend it to those needing dyslexia tutoring.
- All plans cover online dyslexia tutoring
- 4-10+ sessions per month depending on your chosen plan
- No contracts and hidden fees
- Option to sign up for a free trial
- Includes a free evaluation
- Your child gets tutored by friendly professionals who’ve been trained in the Orton-Gillingham reading program
- Dyslexia Connect keeps the learning experience comfortable by assigning the same tutor
- Their online tutoring follows an in-person effective classroom instruction
5. Nessy Reading and Spelling
Nessy Reading and Spelling is one of the top programs that help students with dyslexia master reading and spelling through a structured literacy approach. All beginning readers start the program by learning systematic synthetic phonics, which, according to Nessy, is the best way to teach students.
The learner then progresses to reading comprehension skills. For parents interested in Nessy, take note that the program is ideal for kids ages 6-11. Older students may benefit from it as well. It’s also highly adaptable — parents are free to pick lessons that reflect the ones currently being learned by their child in school.
- With 1,000+ printable worksheets and games
- 100+ video-based and game-based lessons
- Developed by specialists and used since 1999
- Rewards in the form of “Nessy nuggets” for increased motivation
- A global partner of the International Dyslexia Association
- Fun and affordable lessons make kids’ learning experience worthwhile
- Works effectively for English language learners (those whose native language isn’t English)
- Can be used not only in special education classes but also in other settings that support struggling readers
The programs mentioned on this list should be able to boost your child’s reading skills and other cognitive abilities, especially with your support as a parent, caregiver, or teacher.
When choosing between reading programs, remember that a good program engages multiple senses, is systematic and explicit, and modifies lessons based on the child’s needs. And as your child uses a program, ask their opinion about whether they actually find it helpful!