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Google’s new free app teaches kids to read by listening to them

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Google has just ripped the beta label off Rivet, its free mobile app designed to help young children learn to read.

Designed by the company’s Area 120 incubator for employees’ big ideas, Rivet comes with more than 2,000 books for children, categorized by topic and reading level. It also listens to kids read, and assists with pronunciation when necessary.

When Rivet’s Android app hears your child read aloud, it encourages them with subtle visual cues; if they mispronounce a word, a button pops up, prompting them to hear the word pronounced correctly and to try again. When they’re ready, they can proceed to read the rest of the page.

That’s a smart idea, and from my brief tests with a handful of supported books, I found it to work surprisingly well. If you choose to have Rivet evaluate your reading by pressing the mic button, you’ll have to pronounce each word correctly to advance to the next page.

Rivet uses speech recognition to evaluate your child's reading, and gamifies their progress over time
Rivet uses speech recognition to evaluate your child’s reading, and gamifies their progress over time

The only caveat is this feature is currently only available on a limited selection of books on the Android app; support is coming soon to iOS, and the company will likely add more audio-enabled books in the future.

With its beautiful design and progress gamification, Rivet has the potential to help your children develop a strong reading habit. However, I found the range of books with audio support rather lacking, and I didn’t care for the ones based on YouTube videos. Hopefully, readers will have more to choose from over time.

Rivet is currently available in English, in 11 countries on Android and iOS, and it’s completely free to use.

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