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Get Children Reading

We have partnered with the National Literacy Trust to create this resource of video games that encourage and enable reading and writing skills.

The National Literacy Trust is a charity dedicated to improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of children and young people who need it most, giving them the best possible chance of success in school, work and life.

Video games have significant benefits for children who are reluctant or struggling readers. They give them access to stories through interaction and world building which they may not have been able to read in print. Video games also have benefits for families where parents may not be confident readers, meaning that sharing stories as a family is still accessible to all. The rise of video games on smartphones and tablets, as well as more affordable game consoles has made the sharing of interactive stories easier.

There are different ways that video games create this kind of collateral reading and aid literacy:

  • Reading In Games: Video games offer all sorts of reading at all levels. This can be from simple narrative in a game like Florence to dialogue in a game like Mutazione or even just identifying useful items and game mechanics with in-game descriptions in a game like Zelda Breath of the Wild. Then there are games like Thousand Threads that help players think about the power and the consequence of words.
  • Reading Around Games: Video games create worlds that often spawn secondary texts. This can be official novels that expand the world or guide books that offer instructions and help. Knights and Bikes, for example, has spin off books, a cartoon series and recipes to read.
  • Routes Into Books: Many popular book series, such as Beast Quest, offer a range of video games as an easy first step into those worlds that lead to then reading the books themselves.
  • Communication Around Games: As well as reading, games encourage all sorts of creative output. This can be to contribute to the many online forums and message boards to talk about the game. This can also be to write fan-fiction after being inspired about a game world or character. The Sims, for example, has an avid community writing and creating all kinds of content online.

This list includes 120 games from the last 31 years, with 1,992 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to get children reading.


 

Wildermyth

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Release Date: 15/06/2021

Platforms: PC

Wildermyth is a medieval role-playing game about diverse heroes and themes. You take on evil in a number of stories, each with different heroes and settings. The focus is on the characters as much as their adventures, who are believable, diverse and...

Overboard

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Release Date: 02/06/2021

Platforms: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Overboard is a murder mystery narrative game played in reverse. You murder your husband at the start of the game and then try and get away with it. It's played on a ship where the characters are affected by your choices and change their actions...

Knights And Bikes!

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Release Date: 26/08/2019, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Enter a hand-painted adventure in a fictional late-eighties British island and work together as Nessa and Demelza to explore its coast on bikes to find treasure, mystery and trouble. There’s fighting with frisbees, water balloons, tape cassettes and...

Halo (Series)

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 15/11/2001, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Halo is the longstanding sci-fi shooting video game series that started when Halo: Combat Evolved launched alongside the Xbox in 2001. The franchise has featured on every Xbox platform since then, with Halo 5: Guardians serving as the latest entry in...

New Super Lucky's Tale

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Release Date: 08/11/2019, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

This is a platform game where you play a fox on a quest to recover pages from a magical book that will save his world. It takes gameplay in a more action-oriented direction but the islands and characters are full of quirky character and treasures like...

Rainbow Billy

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is a role-play adventure where you save the world from a colourless darkness. Unusually, battles are won through listening and conversation rather than traditional attacks. It combines the excitement and...

Marvel's Spider-Man (Series)

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 07/09/2018

Platforms: PS4 and PS5

Marvel's Spider-Man is a series of superhero adventures where you swing through an open-world city fighting crime and advancing a film-like story. There are also many side quests and missions you can take along the way.

Animal Crossing (Series)

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Release Date: 14/12/2001, updated in 2020

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GameCube, Switch and Wii

You live on a small island teeming with life. Insects, fish, trees, vegetation and fossils are represented with cute cartoon visuals. Rather than the scale or grandeur of other game worlds, it’s the interconnected drama of the world and characters...

Psychonauts 2 (Series)

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 25/08/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS2, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Pieces: Dice

Psychonauts 2 is a running, jumping and puzzle solving game where you play Raz who has psychic abilities that let him delve into the minds of others. In the game, you control Raz as he enters their mental worlds and uses other Psi-Powers (telekinesis,...

Heaven's Vault

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 16/04/2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Switch

In Heaven’s Vault you play an archaeologist translating an ancient alien language whose decrypting weaves through an unfolding drama. While doing real linguistic work you interact with companions and locals. Your choices can open or close vast swathes...

The Forgotten City

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Release Date: 28/07/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

The Forgotten City is a mystery adventure. You explore and relive the final days of a cursed Roman city, where if one person sins, everyone dies. It starts as a bewildering array of characters, locations and information but over multiple goes your...

80 Days

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 31/07/2014, updated in 2019

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

80 Days is a travel and culture discovery game set in 1872, where decisions about your journey around the world impact the course of the story and characters. You play be deciding where to go next and talking to the people you meet to find the right...

Before Your Eyes

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 08/04/2021

Platforms: PC

Before Your Eyes is a narrative game you play with a webcam. It detects each time you blink and advances the story. In this way you work through different scenes from your life, looking around with the mouse and choosing interactions by blinking. It...

Assemble With Care

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Release Date: 19/11/2019

Platforms: PC and iPhone, iPad

From the makers of Monument Valley, this puzzle game is a unique way to consider how physical objects become meaningful and hold our memories. You play a restorer who repairs people's favourite possessions: from family heirlooms to broken statues to...

Penrose

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 01/09/2020

Platforms: Android, Web and iOS

Penrose is a text adventure, where you don't only read the story and choose its next step, but can go back into the text to change it in all sorts of mind-bending ways. As the develop describes it, "Penrose is a non-linear narrative adventure game about...

Thousand Threads

Release Date: 30/07/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Thousand Threads is an open world game of consequences. You are free to interact with the world, animals and people however you like, give, take, save, kill, inform, hide, befriend, betray. But how you do this will have ongoing and unavoidable...

Storyteller

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Storyteller is a puzzle game about building stories. You use a set of icons to matching what is happening in each frame of the story. It's a simple challenge that gets the mind-stretching as you construct some of history’s greatest stories using...

Potion Craft

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Platforms: Mac and PC

Potion Craft is a puzzle adventure game where you create potions in an ancient looking workshop. More than learning recipes, your potions need to strategically combine the qualities of each ingredient to explore the potion-map and create brews to help...

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 21/11/1991

Platforms: GBA, Switch, Wii and Wii U

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is an adventure game in a long "Zelda" series. Like the other games, you play Link, who must defeat an evil force in the land of Hyrule. You do this by exploring the world, killing spawning enemies and finding a...

Sid Meier's Civilization (Series)

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 21/10/2016, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Civilization is a long running strategy game where you develop a society from hunter gatherer to space travel. There are many ways to approach this challenge; socially, militarily, politically or perhaps building wonders to impress other nations.

Wordle

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 20/12/2021

Platforms: Web

Wordle is a daily puzzle game where you (and anyone else playing that day) try and guess the secret word. You get six guesses that must be real words. Each letter is then coloured to provide clues: green for right letter in the right place, yellow for...

My Friend Peppa Pig

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Release Date: 22/10/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

My Friend Peppa Pig is a narrative role-play game. It recreates the TV show Peppa Pig and features a few of the voice actors from the programme. Unlike the show, you are in the cartoon, controlling a character you create. You play with Peppa and her...

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney (Series)

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Release Date: 12/12/2014, updated in 2019

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Android, GBA, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a courtroom murder mystery series where you piece together clues to challenge testimonies and uncover the truth. It’s like a visual novel, although you must interact with characters and evidence to progress.

Beyond Blue

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Release Date: 22/04/2020, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One and iPhone, iPad

Beyond Blue is an underwater exploration game where you play Mirai, a deep-sea explorer and scientist. You see, hear, and interact with the ocean and the creatures in it as you discover an untouched world.

Tunic

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 16/03/2022, updated in 2022

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Tunic is an action adventure game where you play a small small fox who wakes with no memory of where he is. You push through trees, pick up weapons and learn new moves to discover an expanse of forests, caves and landscapes. You can do anything from the...

The Garden Path

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

The Garden Path is a slice-of-life simulation game about the small pleasures of gardening. You tend to a world and make it your own through fishing, growing, trading and making new friends. As you do an adventure emerges.

The Sims 4 (Series)

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 04/02/2000

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

The Sims puts you in charge of a world of characters living normal lives. By providing a home, a job, leisure, friendships and even love interest, you work to make them happy. It’s an open-ended game as well, although the altruism is focused on...

Orwell's Animal Farm

Release Date: 10/12/2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Orwell's Animal Farm is an adventure game with a decent slice of strategy, all brought to life with beautiful hand-drawn storybook art. As the name suggests, the game is based on the 1945 literary classic Animal Farm by George Orwell, which uses a farm...

A Place for the Unwilling

Release Date: 25/07/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC and Stadia

A Place for the Unwilling is a narrative adventure set in the final 21 days of a dying city. You investigate the city and its inhabitants to piece together what has happened. However, the clock is always ticking and the city carries on, with or without...

A Dark Room

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 10/06/2013, updated in 2019

Platforms: Switch and iOS

A Dark Room is an adventure where you try and survive in the wild. The world is depicted with just text but leads you into a dense narrative with intriguing visitors and a steadily expanding world. It has a simple start – a single option to stoke a...

Luigi's Mansion (Series)

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Release Date: 19/10/2018, updated in 2019

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, GameCube and Switch

The three Luigis Mansion (Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Gamecube or Nintendo Switch) games each challenge you to investigate a haunted mansion. As longstanding Nintendo character Luigi, you play a ghostbuster to capture various mischievous ghouls. The puzzles...

Mutazione

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Release Date: 23/09/2019

Platforms: Mac, PS4 and iOS

In Mutazione you play as a 15-year-old girl visiting her grandfather on a faraway island inhabited by friendly but mutated villagers. By finding seeds, tending to gardens and talking to people, you uncover a tightly knit web of characters with...

Star Stable

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Release Date: 01/01/2011, updated in 2022

Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS

Star Stable Online is a hugely popular adventure game where you care for horses, take on daily challenges, solve mysteries and explore a fantasy online world. Originally only available for PC and Mac, it's recently come to mobile devices. Star Stable...

Tangle Tower

Release Date: 19/09/2019

Platforms: PC, Switch and iPhone, iPad

Tangle Tower is a murder mystery game, from the same developer as Snipperclips, where you explore a grand old house and its intertwining families to solve a mysterious murder. You are given the events of the murder, each...

A Fold Apart

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Release Date: 11/04/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iPhone, iPad

A puzzle game that explores the emotional rollercoaster of a long-distance relationship — in a world of folding paper. After career choices force them along separate paths, a Teacher and Architect vow to make their long-distance relationship work at...

Half Past Fate (Series)

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 12/03/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Half Past Fate is a romantic comedy adventure. You explore the lives of six different modern day characters and their romantic relationships over eight hours, eight days, and finally eight years later. It's a point-and-click adventure where you explore...

Ghost Trick

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 19/06/2010

Platforms: DS and iOS

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a game where you play a ghost that can stop time to solve crimes and save lives. You can inhabit and control objects and possess corpses to alter what happens. His ultimate aim is to use his memories to find out how he...

Reigns (Series)

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Release Date: 11/08/2016

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Take charge of a kingdom, one decision at a time. Each choice is presented to you as a playing card with some advice or a question from one of the 38 different characters. Swipe left or right to make a decision that will impact the church, people,...

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 20/12/2011

Platforms: PC

Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) is a role-playing game played with hundreds of other players online, as well as complete single-player narrative-based experiences. It's set in the Star Wars galaxy thousands of years before the films. The game is a...

The Smurfs Mission Vileaf

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Release Date: 26/10/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

The Smurfs Mission Vileaf is an exploration running, jumping and shooting game. You battle the wizard Gargamel to free imprisoned Smurfs and return the sarsaparilla fields to health. to do this you must track down the ingredients for the antidote.

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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