Inspirational young writers

Inspirational young writers

Inspirational young writers

Inspiration strikes when we least expect it. The Fonetti app was inspired by a spark and a desire to boost literacy. Our goal is, and always will be, to nurture a love of reading in every child and give kids access to books globally. But we also want to inspire the next generation of writers and illustrators too.

The entries into our Young Authors Competition completely blew us away with the level of talent from so many young writers. Storytellers with a unique perspective on life, shining a light on our climate, the environment and the world through young eyes. Not only do these writers represent our readers, they also created stories that other children could relate to and would want to read.

It was our under six years old entrants, in particular, that really caught our attention. It’s no secret that children have natural creativity, curiosity and imagination on-tap. But being able to write a story and create something from a blank page to share with so many, at such a young age, is remarkable.

So, what is it that inspires young children to write and why do they enjoy it so much?

We asked winner Guru Kashyap, aged 6, author of ‘Greeny the Caring Tree’ to share with us what writing means to him.

Inspired by Fonetti

Firstly, Guru’s mum explains why she encouraged him to enter Fonetti’s Young Author competition:

‘From a very young age Guru displayed good imagination and storytelling ability. He had a highly developed vocabulary and an interest in the natural world. He would come up with the most amazing stories about cute animal characters that had a nice little message at the end, so I started to record some of them as he’d tell them for fun. As he enjoyed them, I thought they would resonate with other children too so we started to write them down together and he would illustrate them. This soon turned into a little hobby that has made him happy, given him satisfaction and hope that they’re making other children happy too.

When I saw Fonetti’s competition Guru was keen to enter and knew exactly what he wanted to write about…that’s how ‘Greeny the Caring Tree’ came to be.’

Writing through Guru’s eyes

We asked Guru how his stories make him feel, he explains

‘The stories make me feel very happy and proud. I’m always amazed at how well it turns out in the end. Some of my stories are silly but I like them too because they’re funny and make me laugh.’

Why do you like coming up with stories, Guru?

‘I like to come up with stories because it relaxes me and makes me happy. Also, I think I’m good at it. Whenever you’re good at something, you enjoy it and want to do more of it, isn’t it? I hope other children also like my story and that it makes them happy too.’

What got you into telling stories?

‘I tell stories to make my Mummy and Daddy happy. When my Mummy made one into a book, I was amazed at what I saw. It made me want to tell more stories and write more books.’

Why do you illustrate your stories?

‘I like drawing very much. I particularly like drawing animals. Most of my stories have cute animal characters. I want to show other children how I imagined them. I hope they’ll like these characters too. Maybe they can pretend to be these characters themselves when they do role play with their friends… That would be fun.’

At Fonetti we know how important stories are to childhood. They’re the soundtracks to magical years and wallpaper that take us to adventures in other worlds. Fonetti lets children take those adventures with them wherever they are, be it on long car journeys, flights and trains to lazy beach days, the top of mountains or wherever there’s a WIFI signal out in the wild. Fonetti’s given Guru’s imagination a platform – and he’s just one of our winning authors and the start of a new wave of talent that turn their scribbled ideas into stories they can share. Guru’s mum reflects ‘there’s an unrelenting pressure on kids to ‘achieve’ …We believe it’s important to cultivate good values, kindness, passion and imagination in our younger generation to hopefully make the world a better place.. Fonetti is definitely opening the door of opportunity and we look forward to the future.’

You can read Guru’s story and the other winning entries from our Young Authors’ Competition on Fonetti right now. And if this has inspired you to pick up a pen and write a story of your own – keep your eyes on our social media pages for news of our next writing competition.

Top 10 Reading Tips for Parents

Top 10 Reading Tips for Parents

Reading tips Fonetti

Top 10 Reading Tips for Parents

Why would an independent reading app give you reading tips?

The answer’s simple.

Our focus will always be on supporting literacy.

While Fonetti replaces the need for a reading assistant at home, if your child’s school isn’t using Fonetti in the classroom yet, you’re probably in demand as a listening ear at the moment.

And that’s a role no-one should take lightly. The more we listen, the more we learn, both as students and teachers (which means you, if you’re home schooling).

Do you know what questions to ask your children when they read to you? Do you know when to interrupt their flow or correct any mispronunciation?

If you have any doubt don’t worry – we’re here to help.

Afterall, being a reading assistant is our job.

Let’s start at the beginning (we don’t mean ‘Once upon a time’), we mean reading in general.

Learning to read means reading to learn.

So, it’s ok if your child makes mistakes – they’re important because they’ll learn from them every time.

There are two fundamental dimensions of reading:

  1. Word recognition
  2. Language comprehension

Let’s take a look at both:

How to read with your kids

This is something you’ve been doing since they were old enough to recognise you.

But what makes reading a bedtime story different from being a reading assistant?

Your role as narrator isn’t quite redundant, things are just reversed and your new role is more of a thesaurus than an audience.

Your role is exactly as it’s always been, to ignite a love of reading and to bring stories to life…except now you’ve passed the baton.

If phonics plays a large part in your children’s stories, reading is all about sound-talking those CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words, segmenting and blending.

If phonics is a distant memory to your children, they’ll probably need you to help them with their pronunciation and comprehension instead. Whatever their reading level, there’s a reading technique that will help you across them all.

The first is obvious – to listen.

The second is to remember the three Ps:

The 3 Ps

This is a simple strategy for all learning, not just reading.

But the most important part is to take your time. If your reader makes an error but they carry on reading, let them, and correct it later.

Encourage then correct, for example, if they say ‘want’ instead of ‘went’, say ‘well done, that’s nearly right’ instead of ‘you said that wrong’ (criticism crushes confidence).

Repeat what they said back to them so they can hear where they made their mistake.

Pause:

When your child stops. Wait. Let them attempt to read the word, even if they get it wrong. What’s important is that they tried. This will also give you time to realise where in the story they’re struggling and with what words.

Prompt:

Now that you know where they’re struggling, give them some clues to overcome it.

This could be splitting a word in half or segmenting it. It could be re-reading a sentence or talking about what else is happening on the page to give them hints.

If an error is just the result of reading too fast and you know they could correct themselves, don’t highlight their mistake, think of their confidence over critique.

Praise:

As a parent you know your child better than anyone. You know how they react best to praise and what works best to encourage them.

However rather than praising them for ‘good reading’ in general, highlight exactly what they’ve done well. This could be how they:

  • Segmented the words
  • Corrected themselves
  • Re-read a sentence
  • Tried even though they were unsure
  • Read with expression
  • Took notice of punctuation

But be careful not to over-praise as this will devalue their efforts.

Why you make a difference:

Kids need nurture and encouragement to build vocabulary and their communication skills.

What’s better than the support of someone they trust not to judge them as they read?

You can help by:

  • Repetition
  • Making reading fun
  • Conversation. Talk about what they’re reading and how the characters remind them of others
    i.e. “How does the wolf in the Three Little Pigs compare to the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood?”
  • Giving them time (to read, digest and think about the story/words)

Developing comprehension

Reading the words is one part of reading.

Understanding the context is another.

Here’s some ways you can help connect the two:

  • Choose when to interrupt their reading wisely. This could be before a page turn to ask ‘what do you think’s going to happen next?’
  • If a child is struggling to pronounce a word, help them segment it and break it down. Then give them another way of explaining it i.e., ‘do you know what furious means? It means really angry, like when your face turns purple. Think ‘F’ for ‘face’ and ‘F’ for ‘furious’
  • Use open questions not closed ones e.g., instead of ‘Do you like this story?’ (which prompts a ‘yes/no’ response), ask ‘What do you like about this character?’, ‘What’s your favourite thing about this story so far?’ ‘Would you recommend this to someone else?’ ‘What do you think this book is about? How do you know?’,
  • Encourage them to answer in sentences… ‘so you like this story because…’ etc.

Next time you’re asked to listen to your child read, think about the following questions and choose three or four to ask.

Not only will it help your child learn, it will guarantee a brilliant conversation that you’ll both learn from.

10 Top Questions to ask for all reading levels:

  1. What other books have you read like this one? /Does this story remind you of another?
  2. How does the book start?
  3. What would you say is the best thing about this book?
  4. Tell me about the main characters and what you like about how they behave
  5. Where does the story take place?
  6. What picture does this make you think of in your head?
  7. What is the atmosphere like in the story? (in Hansel and Grete for example)
  8. How do the characters react to events? (i.e., when the wolf blows down the houses of the 3 little pigs)
  9. Is there anything about the story you don’t like?
  10. What have other people said about the book? (siblings, friends, teachers, parents, grandparents, critics in the blurb)
And most of all, make reading fun. Just like we do with every story on Fonetti.

How to get Fonetti for free?

How can you tell if you’ve found the best reading app for your kids?

You simply try it first!

We understand the importance of testing an app to make sure it suits you. After all, we’re parents too.

And as Fonetti is so simple to use, it won’t take your kids long before they’ve created their own avatar and have jumped straight into new adventures in a world of words.

Try a family subscription free for 1 month and we’re sure you’ll agree, the best reading app for kids is Fonetti.