Imagine your kid’s journey to reading like a long adventure. It all begins with them being surrounded by lots of books, being read to daily, and hearing stories from their family and caregivers. Even as tiny babies, they are picking up the sounds and rhythm of language.
As they reach toddler and preschool years, they might start recognizing letters and sounds—kind of like learning the alphabet’s secret code. Picture fun games where words rhyme or sound the same—those are some of the early goals.
School (or parents) introduces them to letters and words in a more official way, eventually. They get to crack the reading code using phonics and/or memorization— letting them start sounding out words like little detectives. But it’s not just about reading the words; it’s also about understanding what the words are saying.
As a child psychiatrist, I am often asked to recommend games that will help toddlers and children with their reading skills. From the earliest foundations of language through to full chapter book reading, these are some games that I recommend:
Baby Early Reading Books
Babies can see and also trace letters with their fingers with this board book.
This book has fun buttons for each letter that play educational sounds for each letter of the alphabet.
This book is in high contrast black and white as that has been shown to be easiest to see for young babies.
Toddler Reading Games (Age 2-5)
There is a reason this toy has been around so long and remains so popular; this toy/game works! It is a fun and engaging way to learn the letters and letter sounds with fun music and sound effects.
I recommend getting some small prizes and playing this Bingo game to encourage your kids to learn their letters. You can also play different variations using letter sounds or even with words that start or end with a letter as they advance.
This super fun game involves picking an object from the mystery box, then finding the letter that object starts with and placing it on the letter.
This game is fun for all ages, and helps kids learn both the capital and lower case letters of the alphabet.
This board game is based on the very hungry caterpillar books and teaches upper and lower case letters as well as some sight words and sounds!
This simple card game is great for teaching kids to recognize upper and lower case letters.
This is a fun way to learn letters while moving, you can invent different games like tossing a letter into a bucket or to the other person when it is called out.
This is a fun puzzle game, where you catch different letters with a magnetic fishing pole. It also teaches numbers too!
This puzzle set comes in a cute briefcase and also allows spelling some short words as well.
This game teaches letters in a fun way by involving activities with each letter like “knock on the DOOR for letter D”.
Kids Reading Games (Age 5 and Up)
Learning word families and letter sounds as well as phonics in this fun family card game.
This fun game helps kids learn to spell many common sight words.
This is a very popular game with teachers, it helps kids practice many common sight words and comes in decks for every grade level.
This fast-paced game is great for learning letters and spelling short words.
This classic game has been around since the 1980’s, and still remains a great tool for learning to spell and read today.
This is like scrabble but more challenging with the ability to stack letters to create new words.
There is a reason this is one of the bestselling phonics items on Amazon, it is loved by teachers, parents and kids and great for early readers.
These are a mainstay of reading education, these short and sweet books teach phonics and sight words.
This magical pen reads out the sounds and letters for kids with interactive flash cards.
This system comes with an interactive pen and books that help kids learn to read.
This is a fun and interactive game of sight word reading for up to 4 players.
This books is full of games and activities for reading and phonics for all kids, and also for kids with dyslexia.
This game is also super popular with teachers. You can build sentences along with pictures, great for beginning readers.
This game contains a bag of colorful and tactile letters as well as many game and activity ideas you can do with them.
This company makes a ton of different card, board, and interactive games that are educational.
More Cool Reading Games for Kids
Children are naturally curious learners. They are so open to new concepts, but with too much pressure, they run a high risk of burnout. By participating in reading games, they are engaging in fun learning activities that reduce stress and increase their chances of success. No matter where your child is on their journey, these reading games will strengthen their skills. Whether your child just struggles with reading, has dyslexia, or ADHD, or just doesn’t love to read, all of these games can help!
Reading Games For Kids for Letter Recognition
1) Dry Rice Sensory Play
Tactile activities are a great way to engage young children. Using dry rice to teach letter recognition will hold your little one’s attention and offer a way to fill time when boredom strikes. For this activity you’ll need:
- A tray or cookie sheet
- 2 lb bag of dry rice
- Printed examples of the alphabet
The Set-up: Fill the tray with a thin layer of rice, making sure to completely cover the bottom. Print each letter of the alphabet on a separate card in a large, easily recognizable font.
How The Game Works: Using one letter at a time, display a card above the tray and have your child say the letter with you. Then, using his or her index finger, trace the letter in the rice. This game not only teaches preschoolers to recognize letters, but also how to write them using a fun, sensory activity!
Flash cards have proven to be an effective way of teaching children for decades. But Likee’s Alphabet Matching Cards have taken them a step further by creating a fun letter recognition game. Children recognize the adorable images on the card face and pair them phonetically with wooden letters. As a bonus, this game also includes number recognition cards 1 thru 10. Each game comes with:
- 26 alphabet cards
- 10 number cards
- 36 wooden blocks
- 1 carrying case for organization
How The Game Works: Each card is printed with an easily recognizable image that is associated with the featured letter. The child matches the wooden letter by fitting it into the cutout as he or she enhances letter recognition skills. This can be used as a self-guided or family activity.
This puzzle set helps with both letter recognition as well as spelling! You’ll get many years of use out of them as there are many uses and games with the various parts. Great for travel, restaurants, and a daytime activity with your child.
Reading Games For Sight Words
4) Sight Word Egg Hunt
This game is incredibly simple, but provides endless fun for the whole family! The best part is that it can be modified as an indoor or outdoor activity. For this game you’ll need:
- Empty plastic Easter eggs
- Strips of paper
The Setup: Write one sight word on each strip of paper and add them to the eggs. Hide the eggs in various places around the house or your lawn. Don’t forget to keep track of how many you have hidden so you can complete the game.
How The Game Works: All players hunt for the eggs. When they are found, open them up and have your child read the sight words from each egg.
Trend Enterprises’ Sight Words Bingo puts an educational twist on a time-honored classic. This is a great introduction to sight words as children build their reading skills. The game includes:
- 36 playing cards
- Calling mat of sight words
- Bingo chips
How The Game Works: Just like with traditional Bingo, you’ll establish the pattern players are aiming to complete before the game begins. The caller (usually an adult or older sibling) randomly selects sight words from the calling mat for players to hunt on their playing cards. Once a player has found sight words in a specific pattern, they win!
Reading Games For Understanding Sentence Structure
These bright, colorful magnetic tiles are a fun way for kids to learn sentence structure. Using color-coded parts of speech, children will see what makes up a strong sentence in an interactive way. This package includes:
- 632 magnetic tiles measuring .375” tall
- Tiles are color coded to reflect parts of speech, including nouns, adverbs, prepositions, and more
How The Game Works: Arrange the tiles on any magnetic surface. Use the tiles to form sentences including as many parts of speech as possible, arranging them in the correct order. Children will understand what makes a good sentence in a fun and empowering way.
This goofy game will get the whole family laughing as your child learns to build sentences. As a bonus element, All Things Equal’s “Miss Bernard Is a Wildcard” game introduces kids to the concept of rhyming. The game includes:
- 4 sentence boards
- 110 cards to build sentences
- Score keeping card and pencil
How The Game Works: Players use their boards to build sentences. For each segment they add, (e.g. noun, adjective, or action) players earn points. At the end of the game, points are added together, and the player with the most points wins!
Reading Games For Learning To Read Stories
As children put all the pieces of reading together, they also start building their comprehension skills. By encouraging them to talk about what they’ve read, you will enhance both memory and retention. You can also set up a conversation activity yourself with:
- Popsicle sticks
- Paper and pen
The Setup: Write a series of simple, open-ended questions you can ask your child about the text. Be sure to label any that are specific to fiction or nonfiction.
How The Game Works: Ask your child to pull a popsicle stick, then read and answer the question. Family members can also engage in thought-provoking conversation to increase comprehension.
These foam cubes make reading comprehension fun for even the most reluctant reader. They are designed to guide you through the reading process by asking simple, captivating questions. This set includes:
- 6 foam cubes in three different colors
- An activity guide
How The Game Works: Roll the cubes to reveal questions to ask your child throughout the reading process. There are questions to ask before, during, and after reading. By encouraging your child to reflect on what he or she read, they will build stronger reading skills.
Teaching your little one to read through games can be fun for the whole family. By involving everyone in your child’s education, you will not only enhance their skills but create priceless bonding moments everyone will cherish.