An Honest Hooked on Phonics Review (2023)

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Learning to read is a milestone in every child’s life. It’s something we all have to do, but phonics is the one method of teaching that’s much more effective for most kids than anything else.

Most Hooked on Phonics reviews you read are very good, and if you like to scour the web for clues before making a purchase, what you’ll find is an overwhelming majority of positive experiences. This is learning program that has stood the test of time, and it’s because the quality is indeed quite good.

However, nothing is 100% flawless, and in this honest Hooked on Phonics review, I’ll talk about what other people have said and about my own experiences with the app so you can make a better buying decision.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Learning to Read Product

Every child learns in a different way. When it comes to reading, most children get overwhelmed easily. There are a lot of letters to memorize and the sounds they make can be confusing.

Not only that, but there are upper and lower case letters, different fonts, and plenty of letters that make more than one sound depending on the word. It’s easy to see how learning to read is difficult.

And that’s for a child without any reading difficulties like dyslexia. These challenges can be hard to overcome.

As hard as it is for your child, it can be even harder and more frustrating on you. Teaching reading isn’t a walk in the park. Having tools at your disposal to help with the concepts can make it a lot more fun for everyone.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing any learning to read product is how they’re teaching it. With phonics, the child learns the basics of letter sounds and how they behave in different parts of a word.

This knowledge of how letters work lays the foundation for being a lifelong reader. Learning by sight may work for some, but memorizing how words look doesn’t help a child learn how each individual letter sounds, behaves, or changes.

Phonics has been a proven method for learning to read for a long time, because even when your child is grown, they’ll be able to apply those concepts to new words they’ve never seen before.

It helps with pronunciation and emphasis. Even when your child doesn’t know the word, they’ll be able to deduce what it is, pronounce it right, and glean some meaning from the syntax of the sentence.

That’s basically a fancy way of saying your child will be a better, smarter reader. And that knowledge will be lifelong. It won’t just come in handy today.

There are other methods of learning to read, and they’re not all bad. Every child is different, so you may want to consider a few different methods before choosing. Sometimes a combination of methods works best.

However, for most children, the overwhelming way to go is with phonics, because it just works. It’s as simple as that.

How Hooked on Phonics Works

Hooked on Phonics is a reading program for kids from pre-k all the way through first grade. It’s designed to teach children letter sounds and how they work together rather than learning by sight.

The program promises to have your child reading within 30 days. In fact, they say they guarantee it. When you purchase the trial, which is only $1 for the first 30 days, it comes with reading materials and workbooks shipped to your door, plus access to the smartphone app.

It allows you to log in on up to three devices at once and register up to three readers.

While the images, games, and characters are designed to keep kids entertained, the concepts behind how Hooked on Phonics teaches you to read will translate to anyone who needs a bit more help.

Even if your child is a bit older or you know of an adult who struggles to read, they can use the app, too. Phonics is for anyone who needs to learn how letters and sounds work together to form words.

Hooked On Phonics Features And Benefits

Whether you’re homeschooling or just want to give your child some extra reading support at home, Hooked on Phonics may have a set of features and benefits that will work for you. Set up is easy, the app is fun for kids, and it’s relatively affordable.

Reading materials

Upon sign up, Hooked on Phonics sends reading materials to your door. Hooked on Phonics was developed long before the internet was so prevalent, so they still continue to send out limited hard materials to every user.

Within a few business days, you’ll receive a workbook you can guide your child through at home, with two small beginner books, and a sticker sheet full of stars to reward progress.

The workbook is fun and the stickers are encouraging, but it’s not much when it comes to needing to keep up with progress. Supplemental purchases will help encourage your reader more than just these few items to get them started.

Mobile app

The mobile app is where Hooked on Phonics is really trying to shine. When you subscribe, you get access to the mobile app. The mobile app can be installed on up to three devices, so you can put it wherever it’s most convenient for your child.

Once they open up a game or activity on the app, it’s automatically made available for use offline, so even when you’re not connected to the internet, your child can play. That means you can take it on road trips or to the doctor’s office and they can still be learning.

You can register up to three users on the app, and their progress will be synced across all devices where the app is installed.

If you have more than three kids, this app may not work well for you, or you may need to have a couple of your children share a profile. Otherwise, it’s a great way to give your child access to their learning tools anywhere.

Trial and Setup

The 30 day trial is one thing about Hooked on Phonics that sets it apart from other programs. Some programs are completely free, but you won’t get the comprehensive instruction that you do with Hooked on Phonics.

While the monthly subscription is also a bargain at less than $15, the trial will cost you $1, and they’ll still ship the beginner materials to your door. You can cancel anytime, giving you and your child an opportunity to try it.

Because you have a full 30 days to try it, dedicating just five or ten minutes a day to seeing if your child responds to the method of teaching will give you a good idea of how it’s going to work for you and whether or not it’s worth the price.

Combined with the Hooked on Phonics guarantee that your child can be reading in 30 days, it’s a no brainer. Try it for 30 days for just $1, give your child the jump start they need, and then cancel if you don’t like it or don’t need it anymore.

Subscribing and setting up Hooked on Phonics takes no more than five or ten minutes. Just subscribe online with your email and your payment information, give them your address, and you’re done.

Make sure you have a good connection to the internet before downloading the app. Once it’s downloaded, you can sign up using your email address and the temporary password provided by Hooked on Phonics.

Set up your child’s profile, pick their current reading level, and they can get started right away. As far as sign up and registration processes go, it’s one of the easier ones.

No ads

The professional look of the website and the detail you get when reading about the product also build your confidence in its ability to help your child learn.

It’s not overly spammy and there’s no indication that you’ll be annoyed by popup ads when you download the app. I found this to be true when I got my child started with the program. He was able to dive right into the lessons without navigating any click bait.

If you have a child who blindly clicks on popups, Hooked on Phonics is a great solution because you won’t have to deal with them buying or downloading other apps.

Of course, the trade off is that this app costs money. There are plenty of free learning apps out there that you can download for your child, and with your help, they might work, but you’ll have to be cautious of how they make their money.

Offline availability

As we already discussed, every time your child opens a game or activity on the mobile app, it downloads that game for offline playing. Whenever they’re online, it will sync their progress so they can pick up where they left off, even if you don’t have an internet or a Wi-Fi connection.

This makes it easy for you to help your child learn, even in the middle of a busy schedule, a vacation, or a doctor’s appointment. This uninterrupted progress can make it a lot easier for you and your child to keep up with their learning.


  • No distracting ads
  • Mobile app for up to three devices
  • 30-day $1 trial including all hard materials
  • Offline availability for learning on the go
  • Uses the phonics method for teaching
  • Affordable monthly subscription


  • Not free like a lot of other learning apps
  • Only three child profiles
  • May require parent involvement to monitor progress

Alternative Kids Learning Programs

There are more learning to read programs than anyone could possibly count. Parents of young kids are a huge market for companies and there’s no shortage of them trying to sell you something that your child needs.

However, not all of them are worthy competitors to Hooked on Phonics, which is perhaps the most recognizable of the brands. Here are a few you might want to try if Hooked on Phonics doesn’t seem right to you.

Children Learning Reading

The Children Learning Reading program also guarantees a reader in four weeks. However, it’s a bit more hands on for parents. If you are homeschooling or you prefer to interact with your child as they learn, this may be a good program for you.

While Hooked on Phonics has an app that you can give your child to guide their own learning, Children Learning Reading doesn’t.

However, upon purchase, you can download all of their e-books containing lessons that you can walk your child through. This program also uses phonics as an effective way to teach your child to read.

If you want to try it risk free, there’s a $9 trial, which is a bit more expensive than Hooked on Phonics, but if you decide to purchase, there’s a one-time fee rather than a monthly subscription.

  • Includes e-book lessons
  • More expensive trial
  • One time fee for product
  • Features more parent interaction and involvement

ABC Mouse

ABC Mouse is another app-based learning tool that teaches more than just reading. It offers an online classroom and options for both parents and teachers. There are no hard materials offered as a part of this program, but you can download the app and sign in on as many devices as you want.

ABC Mouse offers a free 30 day trial and a $10 monthly subscription fee. They offer reading and language arts, math, science and social studies, and art. Their curriculum is created by teachers, so it can give you the confidence you need in teaching your child at home.

While it doesn’t focus on reading as intensely as Hooking on Phonics or Children Learning Reading, it’s a good solution for people who need a full curriculum for their kids through preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten.

  • Online classroom with multiple subjects
  • Free trial
  • Low monthly fee
  • Printables

Check out our comparison of Hooked on Phonics vs. ABC Mouse if you’re interested.


Starfall is an education program for kids from kindergarten through third grade. Their membership program is a yearly subscription based product that offers home, teacher, classroom, and school memberships.

It’s an affordable solution, but there’s no free trial. Once you pay, you’re committed to a year. They also offer reading tools in addition to other subjects that are great for homeschooling parents, teachers, and schools.

In addition to the online program that you can use on your phone, tablet, or computer, you can also order supplemental supplies from their online shop.

  • Yearly membership
  • Multiple subjects
  • Home, teacher, classroom, and school subscription options
  • Supplemental supplies available for purchase

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a reading program to help jump start your child’s reading, Hooked on Phonics is one of the best solutions. They offer an affordable subscription rate, plenty of resources, and a great way to have fun while learning.

It’s great for parents with preschool to first grade kids who want to homeschool or supplement their classroom education at home. It’s also the perfect solution for kids who need a little extra support and encouragement, or who might have a learning disability or difficulty reading.

Sarah is a full-time freelance writer and mother of 4. She loves Jesus, cars, and coffee.