Five Online English Reading Systems for K12 Students and young ESL Learners

The largest advantages of eBook systems are the easy access to massive materials and the provision of instant feedback

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Charles Ai

Updated 2018-10-09

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.  — Mark Twain

Reading has been unanimously deemed as one of the core skills to survive the ever-changing world. Through reading, the external world manifests itself in a more meaningful and colourful way to youngsters. Their internal world can also flourish and mature in the process of dialoguing with the great souls who create the dramatic fictions or narrate the inspiring stories.

Ever since the early 2000s, in the course of the exuberant development of online educational technology, smart reading systems have grown into a huge market in the online education business. With more and more convenient Internet access in schools and at home, school leaders, teachers, and parents are all longing for an electronic upgrade for their bookshelves in libraries and studies. As is believed, web-based ebook systems (or smart reading systems) have the advantage of carrying interactive multimedia content much more appealing to kids than the paper-based counterparts. What's more, electronic resources bring about much more efficient navigation experience, and their maintenance and upgrade are way easier than traditional systems, too.

At present, some leading smart reading systems have been extended to incorporate more analytical functions, providing instant feedback to students after they finish embedded quiz and generating visual graphics for teachers to illustrate collective performance after the class finish each task. Thanks to faster network and more computing power of our devices, all of these data can be synced across different platforms and among different stakeholders.

In a word, modern reading systems have been elevated into a significant component of some school-wide managerial solutions. With levelled content that helps scaffold learning, both teachers and students can spend more time in developing skills to process the information with appropriate difficulty and complexity, and less time in choosing what, how, and where to learn.

In this post, I will introduce five online smart reading systems for K12 English learners. Although none of them is free for use, in light of the quality and quantity of their content, they are still highly recommended for schools, teachers, and parents to help our kids improve their English reading skills and foster good reading habits all at the same time.

1. Accelerated Read 360

AR logo

Producer: Renaissance

Content: eBooks + online library + quiz + classroom management system

Target users: All K12 students

Platforms: Website

School integration: The system has been used widely in K12 schools in the US and the UK for its adoption of school curriculums.

Genres: Fiction and non-fiction

Alignment with the Lexile Measure: Yes 




2. LightSail


Producer: LightSail Education

Content: eBooks + online library + quiz + classroom management + student growth report

Target users: Grade 3–12 students

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Chromebook

School integration: There are already some schools using the system, it was designed to facilitate classroom reading.

Genres: Fiction and non-fiction

Alignment with the Lexile Measure: Yes


Featured functions:




3. Headsprout


Producer: Learning A–Z

Content: K2 level English reading courses with a focus on speaking (phonics), basic vocabulary, and preliminary reading skills.

Target users: Kids aged 4 to 7

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android

School integration: Not designed for school use.

Genres: Short stories with cartoon illustrations and videos 


Featured functions:




4. Raz-kids


Producer: Learning A-Z

Content: Levelled reading materials + quiz + progression tracking

Target users: Kindergarten to Grade 3 of elementary school pupils

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Chromebook, Kindle

School integration: Few

Genres: Fiction and non-fiction





5. Newsela


Producer: newsela

Content: Levelled reading materials from mainstream media networks + Quiz + Annotation + Embedded dictionary

Target users: Grade 3 to Grade 12 students

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android

School integration: Few

Genres: Non-fiction (News, reports, short essays and articles)


Featured functions:



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