Reading Apps Roundup

21st-Century ReadingReading Apps

It has been nearly ten years since I have “curled up with a good print book.” No worries though, I am still reading two or more books a week. But ever since I discovered the joy of reading an electronic book and the convenience of having an entire library at my fingertips I have not looked back. Most of my reading is on a dedicated paperwhite e-reader, but recently I am experimenting with reading apps on my smartphone. It is so convenient to have a book when I have a spare moment to read.  I have also embraced audiobooks, and I think this might be just the thing for some of our busy, older students.

Fiction Reading Apps

The Amazon Kindle app is my preferred app for reading fiction on my smartphone. Students and families may or may not have an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited subscription, but there are some free books available through Amazon. Here is a list of the top 100 free children’s e-books.

Reading App Sora

Reading App Sora

My school has an Overdrive collection, and we use the Sora app. This app allows our students to combine access to both the school library and the Tennesse State Digital Library collection “Tennessee Reads.” Our public library uses the Overdrive Libby app for the Tennessee Reads collection to access the full OverDrive collection.

Project Gutenberg has more than 50,000 free books in e-book and audio formats. There is not an official Gutenberg app, but the creators do offer a mobile site. If you are looking exclusively for audiobooks, the Gutenberg audiobooks are available inside the LibriVox app. This app’s motto is “Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain.” There are ads for Audible inside this app, and there are books for purchase in the  LibriVox app.

Finally, Audible is a favorite app for audiobooks, but it can be expensive for those on a budget. The subscription runs $14.99 a month for two book credits. If you are like me, the 2-book credit lasts about a week. Audible has reading “badges” that listeners can accumulate as they read more and more books.

See the screenshots below.

Audible Usage

Audible Badges Audible Levels


Nonfiction Reading Apps

Blinkist is one of my favorite new nonfiction reading apps. The design of this app is simple and easy to navigate. The app is a free download and offers a “free daily” selection called a “Blink.” These are 15-minute, extensive summaries of hot, nonfiction, adult bestsellers. You can either listen to or read the Blinks. Some of the recent free Blinks have featured authors like John C. Maxwell and Jon Meacham. Occasionally, there is a book that I don’t care for, but most days I listen the to the free daily Blink.

The reading app 12Min is quite similar to the Blinkist app. The primary difference is that this app brings a social element into the reading. You can set up a profile, have followers, and follow others. If you want more than just the daily picks on 12Min, you can subscribe to the full database. Blinkist also offers a similar yearly subscription.

I have found a few more nonfiction book summary apps to try. These did not appeal to me personally, but they might appeal to others. The app getAbstract has a Student Pro plan, and the app Joosr has three different levels depending on whether you prefer e-books versus audiobooks. There is one more app in development that I will have to get my IOS friends to evaluate since I am an Android person. Hardbound 3.0 offers illustrated reviews of non-fiction books, but it is currently only available on the iPhone and iPad.


Author: Hannah Byrd Little

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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