WriteReader, an iOS app that helps children learn how to read by encouraging them to create their own stories, has received $800,000 in seed funding from Egmont, a Nordic Media Group to expand and localize the app for the US market.
So far more than 600,000 books have been authored by pre-K-2 children and about 44% of Danish schools use the WriteReader app to support children in their journey to early literacy.
The app was created based on scientific research, as Scandinavian scientists put the Write To Read method to the test during a two-year long study. Their findings showed that the method is effective in accelerating literacy progress in children. By learning to read through writing, it helps children to write at grade 3 level by the time they graduate from first, its developers asserted in a press release announcing its launch in the US.
The app lets the young learner experiment with how letters and sound work together, encouraging learning through a range of visual and auditory tools. For instance, the learner can write about any topic of interest by using a phonetic keyboard. The output is shown on screen and right beneath it, and the teacher or parent can insert the right version of that sentence so that the young learner can understand the letter and sound correspondence.
Learners can also record themselves talking and then the app turns their speech to text, again introducing them to the patterns of letter and sound correspondence.
WriteReader says the write to read approach has measurable results. The study’s findings confirmed that:
“Reading skills were improved considerably and students in the test group wrote longer texts with better structure, clearer content, and a more elaborate language.”
The literacy app has been tested by Primary Reading Specialist Pam Weldon with first graders. She concludes about her and her students’ experience that:
“The WriteReader app is a great resource to introduce process writing to young children leading to better reading ability. Even my most reluctant students love to use it to create personal narratives. This app promotes proper phonemic spelling and easily improves literacy outcomes for my young writers.”
Having reading and writing be taught or experimented with at the same time helps young learners achieve better literacy outcome, Weldon explains. Her first graders were visibly more confident in using the English language since they write what they say and read what they’ve written.
According to Ed Surge, there are plans of gamifying learning on WriteReader with badges. Baig Babar, founder of WriteReader, told Ed Surge that:
“If you could give a child a mini-author badge for creating their first book, this could increase their motivation for literacy.”
The app, which has been available since 2011 in Denmark, has been named the best teaching resource by the Danish Ministry of Education.