I was contacted a while ago and asked if I would like to review an educational app called Write to Read. This app has been developed in Denmark, and builds on research that has shown that it is easier to learn to write than it is to learn to read. The app focusses on teaching a child to write (or, more accurately, type), but by doing that in such a way that they will also learn to read. As the geekdaughter is now at school I have been keeping my eyes open for more age-appropriate apps for her, and this one appeared to fit the bill, so I agreed, and was provided with a promo code to allow me to download the app for free.
In simple terms the Write to Read app gives your child an easy way of putting together their own books, based on pictures they import from the iPad (either from the photo library or by taking them with the iPad camera). Whilst the app will run on the original iPad (which doesn’t have the camera), it’s a bit more tricky to get pictures into it, so I would recommend you’d get the best use of this app with an iPad 2 or later model.
When you start creating a book, the first thing you are prompted to make is the cover page. Here you can place a picture, then there are text boxes to add the title of the book and the author. Once you’ve done that, there is an “add page” button, which allows you to add as many book pages as you like. The book pages have a space for a picture, just like the cover page, but this time there are two text boxes – one for your child to type in, and one for an adult to type a correctly spelt version of the child’s attempt. And that’s where the genius of this app comes in. We’ve seen at the geekdaughter’s school that the emphasis in the early days of learning to write is on producing “phonetically plausible” spellings. With this app your child can continue working in this way, but by then taking the time to see the correct spelling they will gradually not only learn the correct spellings of words, but also they’ll be learning to read too.
It’s very much an app that is designed to be used in collaboration with your child, not necessarily something to leave them doing unsupervised. It provides a great framework for creating together, for talking about words and spellings, and for building keyboard familiarity as you encourage your child to find the letters on the standard qwerty keyboard.
For added fun you can add text to the pictures in the book, and even add speech or thought bubbles too! There is also the facility to record a commentary on each page, so if your child isn’t confident typing they can speak what they want to say about each picture and it can be played back whenever required.
Once the book is finished it can be shared by printing to an iOS compatible wireless printer, sharing directly to Facebook or you can send a PDF version by email. It’s a shame there isn’t the ability to export directly to iBooks, but you can always email yourself the PDF version and then pull that into iBooks if you wish.
Write to Read (affiliate link) is available for the iPad only, and costs £4.99. Now that’s more than I usually like to spend on an app, but I think there is so much potential to this one, and it’s also something that a family is likely to get a lot of use from (the developer says it is suitable for children aged from 3 to 10, which is quite a wide range). So I think this app would be a good investment, and a really good way of supporting your child as they learn to read and write.
Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the Write to Read app for this review. The link to the app in the App Store contains my affiliate link – if you make a purchase after clicking I will receive a few pence commission.