Reading Machine
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Will Reading Machine give my child help on any word?
Reading Machine has a text-to-speech processor that uses a "computer voice" to pronounce any word. Your child will get this type of help on any word that is not in its dictionary. This means your child will never be totally stuck without any help on a word, even complicated words like "antebellum" or made-up words like "jorf."

But Reading Machine is primarily designed to give your child decoding help, so that your child can see how the letters within the word make sounds. Reading Machine will give your child this type of decoding help for any word in its dictionary. Words and sounds in the dictionary are pronounced with a recorded human voice.

Reading Machine has over 5,000 words in its dictionary.



How does Reading Machine know what type of help to give for a word?
All the words in the Reading Machine dictionary have been individually coded for help by a reading scientist with over twenty years of experience, to give the best type of help for that type of word. All the words, syllables, and letter sounds in the Reading Machine dictionary have also been individually recorded with the same human voice, for quality and consistency.

There has been lots of research in the past twenty years to discover how a child who will become a good reader learns new words and encodes them in his or her brain. We don't have all the answers yet, but we have a lot of good evidence. We used the best and latest evidence from research and from good teachers to decide what type of help to code and record for each word.


Why does Reading Machine show some words decoded sound-by-sound (or phoneme-by-phoneme), and other words decoded in larger chunks?
Research suggests that it would be very hard for a beginning or struggling reader to blend together more than five sounds. So Reading Machine decodes any word with more than five sounds using larger chunks.

This approach also fits with research showing that the most effective first grade reading teachers show children how to figure out many words using the smallest chunks (phonemes) and how to figure out some words using larger chunks of letters.

Will Reading Machine pronounce swear words?
Kids will be kids, won't they! Reading Machine has a built-in "no-no" list that contains common swear words, and even common misspellings of common swear words. If children type these words in and press the "help" button, Reading Machine will simple show an asterisk in the help box and play a "beep" sound.

If you have an exceptionally creative child who comes up with additional words or creative spellings that you think we should add to the "no-no" list, just let us know!


How do I get help on hyphenated words, like "good-bye", or "mixed-up?"
Just get help separately on each word in the hyphenated combination.


On the Reading Machine Settings page, I flipped the switch to hide the header buttons. Now I can't get them back, even when I close the app, go back to the main iPhone screen, and re-open the app. What do I do?
You need to re-start the app, not just close it. One way to do this is to power down your device and re-start it.

  • Hold down the power button until the screen says "Slide to power off."
  • Slide the slide and wait for the device to power down.
  • Then press the power button again to restart the device.
  • When you open Reading Machine, the header buttons will be restored.


What types of children might benefit most from using the Reading Machine?

Based on our testing experience, we believe that Reading Machine can be useful for any child who has learned some basic decoding skill and is ready to advance from reading simple individual words to reading sentences. We have also found that the app is especially effective for:

  • Young readers who don't like having to ask for help when they are stuck on a word
  • Children who find it especially difficult to remember the sounds for individual letters and letter combinations
  • Children who have developed habits of "guessing" words by looking at the first letter
  • Children who are especially smart and good at guessing words from context. These children have often developed guessing as their major strategy for reading and now find it hard or frustrating to read more advanced sentences and books, when they can't figure out all the words by guessing.


My child mistakenly entered a purchasing lock code on the settings page and now we don't know what it is. We want to download some more book sets, so what do we do?
Relax. You can always enter the master unlock code "gnidaer" ("reading" spelled backwards) to gain access to the free book sets. You can also enter that code on the Settings page to reset the "Require access code for purchasing" to off. If you later want to lock purchases (i.e., access to the free book sets) again, you can enter a new code.