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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 guidebooks 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 by a game world or character. The Sims, for example, has an avid community writing and creating all kinds of content online.

 
This list includes 162 games from the last 33 years, with 3,105 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to get children reading.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Release Date: 25/04/2020

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a role-play collecting game where 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...

Before Your Eyes

Release Date: 08/04/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Cartoon

Before Your Eyes is a narrative game about an 11-year-old boy revisiting his life before "crossing over" to the other side. You play by exploring scenes that represent snapshots of his life. Unusually, you make choices and interact with the game by...

Rainbow Billy

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Hand-Made

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

New Super Lucky's Tale

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

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

New Super Lucky's Tale is a running and jumping game where you play a fox on a quest to recover pages from a magical book that will save his world. Play is action-oriented but the islands and characters are full of quirky characters and treasures. It...

Marvel's Spider-Man

Release Date: 07/09/2018

Out Now: PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

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. Play is a combination of exploration, taking on fights and collecting items. There are also many side...

Halo (Series)

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

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

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...

Storyteller

Release Date: 23/03/2023

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Storyteller is a puzzle game about building stories. You use a set of icons to match 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 building...

Knights And Bikes!

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

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made

Knights And Bikes! is a hand-painted adventure in a fictional late-eighties British Isles. You work together as Nessa and Demelza who explore its coast on bikes to find treasure, mystery and trouble. There’s fighting with frisbees, water balloons,...

Season: A Letter to the Future

Release Date: 31/01/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Season: A Letter to the Future is a narrative adventure about a young woman sent out from her secluded community to explore the world for the first time. She is tasked with documenting life in a local valley before a mysterious cataclysm washes...

Overboard

Release Date: 02/06/2021

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Hand-Made and Text

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 changes their actions...

Luigi's Mansion

Release Date: 14/09/2001, updated in 2018

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS and GameCube

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Luigi's Mansion is an adventure game where you investigate a haunted mansion to capture the ghosts. As long-standing Nintendo character Luigi, you play a ghostbuster to capture various mischievous ghouls and rescue Mario. It stands out for the unusual...

Lil Gator Game

Release Date: 14/12/2022, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Lil Gator Game is an action-adventure set on an island playground where a young brother invents exciting games to try and get his older sister to play like they used to. You guide your waddling gator to explore the world as you bop cardboard baddies,...

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney (Series)

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

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

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.

The Garden Path

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon, Open World and Persistant World

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.

Wordle

Release Date: 20/12/2021

Out Now: Web

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Text

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 the right letter in the right place, yellow...

80 Days

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

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Day and Night

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...

Ghost Trick

Release Date: 19/06/2010, updated in 2023

Out Now: DS, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a narrative brain 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...

Wildermyth

Release Date: 15/06/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Hand-Made

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...

Wayward Strand

Release Date: 15/09/2022

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon and Hand-Made

Wayward Strand is a narrative game about Casey Beaumaris, an intrepid teenage journalist. You visit an airborne hospital, uncover the airship's mysteries, and explore the lives of its inhabitants. It's a Tintin-style point-and-click adventure with a...

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Release Date: 01/01/1999, updated in 2019

Out Now: Game Boy and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Hand-Made and Open World

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is an adventure-puzzle game in the Zelda series and universe. A remake of the 1993 Game Boy game of the same name, this one is set on Koholint Island and follows Link after he is stranded and must find a way back to...

Cris Tales

Release Date: 20/07/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Cris Tales is a role-playing game where you see how your actions in the present affect the past and future. You play as Crisbell in a cartoon-looking adventure through four Kingdoms in a bid to stop the powerful Time Empress and rewrite the future of...

The Case of the Golden Idol

Release Date: 13/10/2022, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, Switch and Web

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

The Case of the Golden Idol is a point-and-click adventure set in the 18th century, where you attempt to solve 12 gruesome deaths. You play by investigating each scene to gather information in the form of words that you piece together to make statements...

Citizen Sleeper

Release Date: 05/05/2022

Out Now: PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon, Dice, Grid and Text

Citizen Sleeper is a role-play game set in the ruins of interplanetary capitalism. You are an escaped worker exploring a lawless space station, making friends, and (ultimately) trying to escape your past. Each cycle you roll dice and decide how to spend...

Sticky Terms

Release Date: 01/03/2020

Out Now: Android and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Text

Sticky Terms is a puzzle game where you construct words from other languages with portions of letters. You rotate, drag and overlap the different elements to create words, once you do you are rewarded with a drum hit and a definition of the word.

Chants of Sennaar

Release Date: 05/09/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Chants of Sennaar is a traversal and translation puzzle where you play a traveller called to reunite the Peoples of the Tower who are unable to communicate with each other. Play involves exploring the cell-shaded world to decipher the glyph-based...

Yono and the Celestial Elephants

Release Date: 12/10/2017

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Grid

Yono and the Celestial Elephants is an adventure puzzle game about helping a young elephant restore order to the world. You explore the world and help the characters you meet by solving puzzles going on treasure hunts and occasionally taking on some...

The Pale Beyond

Release Date: 24/02/2023

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, 2D Side-On and Day and Night

The Pale Beyond is a narrative simulation game where you captain an exploration ship stranded in the frozen Antarctic waters. You carefully manage and gather resources and keep your crew in good health to hopefully survive until the summer. It stands...

A Tiny Sticker Tale

Release Date: 04/10/2023

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Cartoon

A Tiny Sticker Tale is an adventure where you change the cosy cartoon world with stickers. Play involves moving around and talking to the locals, then switching to sticker mode to use objects and complete quests. It stands out for the approachable play...

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley

Release Date: 07/03/2024

Coming Soon: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon, Hand-Made and Open World

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley is a musical adventure game where you restore the harmony of Moomin Valley from grotesque parks. It's the variety of play and the beloved characters that make this game a great experience for small (and not-so-small) kids.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Release Date: 21/11/1991

Out Now: GBA, Switch, Wii and Wii U

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Open World and Pixels

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...

Psychonauts 2

Release Date: 25/08/2021

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Dice and Hand-Made

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,...

Bluey: The Videogame

Release Date: 17/11/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Bluey: The Videogame is a super-simple treasure hunt adventure with characters and locations from the show. You play by exploring familiar places like Heeler House, Playgrounds, and the Creek to collect stickers, unlock outfits and find secrets. It...

King of Dragon Pass

Release Date: 01/01/1999

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Text

King of Dragon Pass is a fantasy strategy game where you control barbarian clans settling in the dangerous frontier region of Dragon Pass.

Assemble With Care

Release Date: 19/11/2019

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Assemble With Care is a narrative puzzle game from the makers of Monument Valley and 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...

Penrose

Release Date: 01/09/2020

Out Now: Android, Web and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Text

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 developer describes it, "Penrose is a non-linear narrative adventure game...

My Friend Peppa Pig

Release Date: 22/10/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon and Day and Night

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...

Thousand Threads

Release Date: 30/07/2020

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Hand-Made and Open World

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, and betray. But how you do this will have ongoing and unavoidable...

Potion Craft

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Out Now: PC and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Potion Craft is a puzzle adventure game where you create potions in an ancient looking workshop to send you bottle around the map. You combine ingredients, fire and water to move your bottle along the map to the target location and brew a potion to help...

Beyond Blue

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

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

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.

Sid Meier's Civilization (Series)

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

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid and Open World

Sid Meier's 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 by building wonders to impress other...

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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