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Hooked on Phonics vs All About Reading: Which is Best?

Hooked on Phonics vs All About Reading: Which is Best?
Latest posts by Keith Lindner (see all)

Teaching your child to read can feel like a daunting task, and you might be considering turning to a reading program to help – in which case, our Hooked on Phonics vs All About Reading comparison is just what you may need!

A good reading program will help to demystify the process of learning to read, breaking it down into simple steps. Hooked on Phonics and All About Reading are two great programs for parents, with a few big differences that set them apart.

But which one is better? We think Hooked on Phonics just about has the edge, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out why.

We’ll look at each one in detail – we’ve tested out the apps for ourselves, so you can see how they work. We’ll also look at parent reviews, pros and cons, and pricing, directly comparing them, before we come to our final conclusion on which one is better. First, let’s take a look at how they differ from each other!

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: The better blended digital and physical experience and EASIER to practice model is definitely Hooked on Phonics here. You can either sign up for digital subscriptions here and/or purchase the physical workbook bundles here. All About Reading only offers physical workbooks and is harder to teach on the go. 

Main Differences Between Hooked on Phonics vs All About Reading

The Main Differences between Hooked on Phonics and All About Reading are:

  • Hooked on Phonics focuses mostly on an app, whereas All About Reading uses physical resources like books and worksheets
  • Hooked on Phonics has an app which is colorful and interesting, whereas All About Reading have simpler apps that are a bit outdated
  • Hooked on Phonics allows you to buy lifetime access to the app for all levels, whereas All About Reading is separated into different levels
  • Hooked on Phonics can be picked up and used when you have a spare moment, whereas All About Reading requires more time to present each lesson

They are very different programs, as you can see.

The main thing to consider is that Hooked on Phonics focuses very much on the app, which is designed to guide your child through each level. The workbooks and reading books are supplementary. Whereas All About Reading uses a series of parent/teacher books, workbooks, and reading books.

The apps are supplementary for All About Reading. Hooked on Phonics is ideally suited for parents wanting to support what their child is already learning. The app is ideal for picking up and putting down when you have spare time. All About Reading is very thorough but is better suited for home-schooling parents – it will give them a comprehensive set of lessons to teach their kids to read.

The Similarities

There are a few similarities:

  • They both use phonics to teach children to read
  • They’re both aimed at teaching your child based on their ability – there’s no pressure to move onto a certain stage based on your child’s age
  • The workbooks, stickers, and certificates provided by both Hooked on Phonics and All About Reading are fun and interesting for kids.
  • They both use cute animal characters, which is particularly appealing to younger children.

Now, let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.

What is Hooked on Phonics?

Hooked on Phonics is a reading program used by over five million families. It includes an app that can be synchronized across all your devices, as well as books and workbooks that can be bought separately. It’s aimed at children aged 2-8 (or children reading between a Pre-K and Second Grade level).

What is All About Reading?

All About Reading is a program designed to help parents and teachers teach children to read. It combines a series of teacher/parent workbooks, student workbooks, stickers, and apps. It’s aimed at children aged 2-8, with different levels to suit their age or stage of development.

Hooked on Phonics – Main Features

There is a four-step process to Hooked on Phonics:

  1. Learn – this stage combines fun videos, songs, and interactive games to introduce your child to new concepts
  2. Practice – your child can practice what they’ve just learned using activities, puzzles, and games (and Practice Packs, which encourage writing skills and can be bought separately)
  3. Read – your child can read either physical books or eBooks that are designed to use the skills they’ve been learning
  4. Celebrate – you can celebrate your child’s successes using stickers, certificates, and in-app rewards

There are 8 levels in this program, but you don’t have to complete the whole thing – you can start at your child’s current level. You can have up to three children registered to your Hooked on Phonics account.

The App

The app is available for Apple, Android, and Amazon devices. You can also use it on a desktop. Once you’ve downloaded it, you can use it offline. There are two main categories, Pre-Reader World or Learn to Read World.

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It’s a colorful, bright app, with cute, eye-catching animations. The songs are really catchy, too. Children are introduced to one concept at a time, with a video or song. After that, they’ll be given some easy games to reinforce what they’ve just learned.

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The games are very straightforward – below, they have to drag objects beginning with the letter ‘a’ into the frame.

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‘Learn to Read World’ is aimed at older children, with children learning slightly more difficult sounds and concepts. Older children will have more choice when it comes to games.

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At each level, your child will have access to books, songs, games, and rewards suited for their level of progress. The reward system is nice for kids – they can get in-app stickers and certificates when they get to the end of their level, to give them a sense of progress.

The app isn’t perfect, however. It crashed while we tested it, but newer devices may not have the same problem. Some parents have found that once the app updates, it starts to run less smoothly, which is a shame. Overall, we liked the app – it has lots of fun activities for kids, and enough repetition to help them perfect each concept before they move on to the next stage.

All About Reading – Main Features

All About Reading consists of different levels. They don’t refer to grade levels, as they feel it is more appropriate to focus on your child’s individual skill level as opposed to their age. There are five levels, and each one has a free placement test, so you can figure out if your child is ready to move onto the next stage.

They use five key components to teach reading:

  • Phonological Awareness
  • Phonics and Decoding
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

Each lesson should take around 15 minutes for the parent or teacher to read through and prepare. Each level comes with different resources (depending on which package you choose). For example, the pre-reading level contains:

  • A teacher’s manual
  • A student packet (of worksheets)
  • The Zigzag Zebra book
  • Lizard Lou book
  • Divider Cards
  • Animal Stickers
  • Letter Sounds A-Z app

The higher price option also includes:

  • Review Box
  • Reading Tote Bag
  • Ziggy Zebra Puppet

Each level contains different resources, aimed at your child’s level. You can buy resources individually if you prefer, or you can choose one of their pre-made bundles.

The majority of All About Reading is made up of physical books, workbooks, and other resources – it doesn’t rely so heavily on an app in the same way that Hooked on Phonics does. It does have a couple of apps (which we’ll look at shortly) but they’re quite simple. It has a good focus on supporting parents and teachers – you’ll get lifetime support via phone or email, which is great.

The Apps

There are a few apps designed to work with the All About Reading program. They’re very basic. This is the Letter Sounds app:

A close up of text on a white background Description automatically generated All you have to do is click on a letter to hear the sound – that’s it. It’s designed to give your child an idea of how the letter sounds are pronounced. They also have a Phonogram Sounds app:

A close up of a sign Description automatically generated A screenshot of a cell phone Description automatically generated This introduces more complex sounds and is a useful accompaniment to the other materials. They have a simple Letter Tiles app, only available for iPads, Android tablets, or the Kindle Fire. This allows your child to build words, divide words into syllables, and hear the sounds of phonograms. The apps are very basic.

They could be a little more up-to-date and fun to look at, but as they’re not the main focus of the program, this isn’t too much of a problem. It would be nice to see some more exciting, colorful apps in the future, as they would complement the written materials really well. They work well on older devices as well as newer ones, which saves some frustration and headaches.

Pricing Comparison

Hooked on Phonics Pricing

There are three pricing levels for Hooked on Phonics. One Month – $6.99 This gives you access to the app for 30 days. 1 Year – $39.99 This gives you one year’s access to the app. Lifetime – $79.99 This will give you lifetime access to the app.

Hooked on Phonics Extras

There are extra resources you can buy, which work really well with the app. You can buy individual practice packs that suit your child’s level ($6 each) which will allow them to practice their writing skills. You can buy bundles, too – for example, the storybook and workbook bundle costs $31.99.

If you’ve got a bigger budget to work with, you could go for the Ultimate Learn to Read Bundle, which gives you lifetime app access, 36 books, 8 workbooks, 8 DVDs, a collection of videos to stream, flashcards, stickers, and a reading fun pack. This comes in at $289.99, so it’s a pretty big investment. You can see the pricing for the extra products on their store here. If you don’t like the program, or it just doesn’t suit you as a family, you can use their 30-day money-back guarantee to get a refund.

If you want to try the app, you can download it via Google Play or the Apple App Store. If you register that way, you can try it for free for 7 days.

All About Reading

The pricing for All About Reading is a little more complex, with multiple options for each stage: Pre-Reading

  • Basic Package – $79.95
  • Deluxe Package – $119.95

Level 1

  • All Materials – $134.95
  • Reading Games with Ziggy the Zebra (optional) – $19.95
  • Basic Reading Kit – $21.85
  • Deluxe Reading Kit – $43.85

Level 2

  • Complete Package – $134.95
  • Basic Reading Kit – $21.85
  • Deluxe Reading Kit – $43.85

Level 3

  • Complete Package – $134.95
  • Basic Reading Kit – $21.85
  • Deluxe Reading Kit – $43.85

Level 4

  • Complete Package – $134.95
  • Basic Reading Kit – $21.85
  • Deluxe Reading Kit – $43.85

You can find out more about their pricing for each level here.

Awards and Parent Reviews

Hooked on Phonics

Hooked on Phonics have won a few awards, like the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval (2009), and the iParenting Media Award (2008). You can see the full list here. Parents are pretty positive about Hooked on Phonics.

They found that it really helped to support what their child was learning at school. Others used it as part of their home-schooling program. Most people found that their children were engaged using the app but felt that the experience was much better using the workbooks and reading books, which obviously cost extra.

The downside is that a few parents experienced issues using the app after an update, if they were using it on older devices. This is a bit frustrating, especially if you’ve paid for lifetime access. Most parents found that the app ran well with no problems, though.

All About Reading

All About Reading has won a few awards for the different levels of their program, including the Mom’s Choice Award. Parents are very positive about their experiences using All About Reading, particularly home-schooling families – it presents the lessons clearly so that parents or teachers can quickly understand which concepts they’ll be teaching.

They also felt the price was reasonable given the amount of resources you get, and most importantly, their children really enjoyed the lessons. The downside is that the lessons are more time consuming for parents. Busy parents might find it difficult to squeeze in the full lessons at home, whereas with Hooked on Phonics, you can let your child use the app for ten minutes to reinforce what they’re already learning at school. A few parents also felt that the apps could do with some improvement, too, and that they would like to see some more exciting, modern apps to complement the workbooks (especially for older kids).

Pros and Cons

Hooked on Phonics


  • The songs are very catchy and fun
  • The animations are cute and nice to look at
  • The games are fun
  • The program encourages repetition to reinforce concepts they’ve already learned
  • Children get rewards in the form of stickers and certificates


  • It can work out expensive if you want to use the accompanying workbooks and reading books
  • If you use it on older devices, you might find updates cause the app to crash

All About Reading


  • Gives a very thorough grounding of each concept
  • Uses a fun mixture of books, stickers, and worksheets
  • It uses cute animal characters to catch the attention of younger kids
  • You can get support at any time if you feel stuck or confused about anything


  • The lessons can be time consuming
  • The apps are dated and not that nice to look at

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get Hooked on Phonics or All About Reading in other languages?

Not at the time of writing, no.

Do Hooked on Phonics or All About Reading offer free resources?

Yes – All About Reading has a lot of free resources including eBooks, guides, and activities – you can find them here. Hooked on Phonics has a blog for parents with helpful tips – you can read the blog posts here.

Can I get a refund if I don’t like All About Reading?

Yes, they offer one full year for refunds – if you don’t get on with the program, you can return it.

Are there any alternatives I could try?

Yes, there are a few alternatives we could recommend:

  • If you want a reading program which uses a fun app that appeals to older kids, you could try ABCMouse (read our Hooked on Phonics vs ABCMouse comparison to see what we thought of it.)
  • KizPhonics offers worksheets, videos, apps, and games from 3-8 years, with some free resources as well as a monthly or yearly membership
  • If you want to support your child but you’re on a very low budget, you could check out Reading Bear offers a basic overview of phonics, and could be a great supplement for one of the other reading programs we’ve mentioned today

The Bottom Line: Which One is Better?

It’s a really difficult one to call, because they’re both such different programs – it really depends on what suits your lifestyle as a family.

All About Reading is excellent for home-schooling families. It will completely take the stress out of figuring out how to teach your child to read – the lessons are comprehensive and clear for both parents and kids. Even the basic package contains a great amount of resources, which is nice – it keeps things interesting for your child as they progress. Plus, the lifetime support is excellent.

However, if we had to pick an overall winner, we’d go with Hooked on Phonics.

It’s really ideal for families wanting to support what their children are already learning at school – you can just pick up the app and carry on wherever you are. Long car journeys or waiting rooms can become educational experiences using the app, as you don’t need to be online to use it. These small bursts of play can help to reinforce each concept.

Plus, if you want to use it for home-schooling, you can order the extra resources to go with it – they work really well to reinforce what your child has already learned using the app.

Bottom Line Summary: The better blended digital and physical experience and EASIER to practice model is definitely Hooked on Phonics here. You can either sign up for digital subscriptions here and/or purchase the physical workbook bundles here. All About Reading only offers physical workbooks and is harder to teach on the go. 

Ultimately, it comes down to what suits you best – but we think both programs are great for parents and children alike.

If you want to find out more about supporting your child’s learning, try these articles:

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