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.


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.


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.


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.

The right time for screen time

The right time for screen time

The right time for screen time

How do you feel about screen time?

If you’ve changed your mind over the last few months you’re not alone. Perceptions of technology and our relationships with it (especially tablets) have changed recently.

And it’s mainly because of how our own lives have changed.

Cast your minds back to this time last year and you, like many parents, were probably in favour of setting strict time limits on tech for your kids.

Never in a million years did you expect to be so reliant on it yourself, let alone as a household.

And now here we are in a post-lockdown society dealing with the demand for tech that meets the habits formed during lockdown.

A time when we all turned to technology to find our new ‘normal’.

Have family quiz nights over Zoom become a regular activity in your house?

They have in many of ours. Face Timing friends is now normal, not a novelty.

And using a screen to enhance learning feels as natural as exploring the great outdoors.

Tech has slipped into our daily routines conveniently. It’s like putting on a comfy slipper and making us feel at home with what it offers.

But it’s also provided us with an unchangeable constant we can rely on – and Fonetti is just one example.

The reading assistant at home or away

Fonetti is more than a constant – it’s a welcome friend for our kids that blends fun and learning whether in the classroom, at home or wherever there’s Wi-Fi.

Fonetti makes reading fun.

It’s educational as well as entertaining. So, kids still get all the satisfaction from a game but with reading rewards. As a parent, you don’t need to worry about unhealthy screen time.

Fonetti is safe and secure.

It’s also current and compatible with the latest software updates most devices use. The language used in Fonetti stories reflects the way our subscribers speak, in UK English.

We work with our authors and publishers to update classic texts to make sure they’re still as relevant today as they were when they were first published – to keep kids entertained and hold their attention in direct competition with tech that’s less beneficial.

Mindful texts

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how vital mindfulness is in our children. And you can rest assured their wellbeing is being supported.

Fonetti has a range of titles that promote mindfulness and that help younger readers make sense of these changing circumstances.

From ‘Our World Needs A Clean’ by Nicky Nash that explains COVID-19 through a fairy tale to ‘Sadsville’ by Martin Roberts that tackles the theme of child sadness and anxiety – Fonetti caters for every ability.

For less than the price of a takeaway coffee, your kids can access a month of books from an ever-evolving library. Books with a difference – Listening Books™.

Think karaoke but for stories instead of songs.

Your child chooses a story and starts reading aloud. When they get the words right, they turn green, if they get stuck, they simply double-tap for a clue. And when they’ve finished, they receive instant rewards, fanfares and badges.

Encouragement for learning without them realising they have.

Young Authors’ Competition 2020

Young Authors’ Competition 2020

Young Authors' Competition winners announced

Young Authors’ Competition 2020

Thank you thank you thank you from all of us at Fonetti HQ and our judges.

You have blown us away with your amazing talent and incredible stories.

We received nearly 100 entries. And most of these were written during term-time and all the distractions of home-school and lockdown – which made every story even more impressive.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to write and share your story.

And here’s a quick message to you from Greg James, one of our judges:

We’re so excited to announce the winners

Not only have we chosen a winner for each of the five illustrations, we’ve also chosen an overall winner too. And the good news doesn’t stop there.

Because the standard of your writing was so high, and as we were so impressed with your creativity, we’re also recognising our runners up and a small number of highly-commended stories.


So, drumroll please…here’s Clare Balding to announce the winners:

Up to 9 years of age 


Emily Compton
“How Elephant met Moon”


Mia Boyd
“Horrifying Hazel”


Guru Kashyap
“Greeny the Caring Tree”


Nitya Sharma
“Magic or Science”


Anna Deatcher
“The Fun Fight”


Avyaya Iyer
“The Watering Cowboys”


Arran Wallace
“Funny Bones”


Seth Traczykowski
“The Darkest Night”


Georgia Taylor
“In Your Hands”


Lucy McGhie
“A Day at My Mum’s Surgery”

In recognition of brilliant writing talent, these phenomenal young authors have all been highly commended for their stories:

Phoebe Allan
Sebastian Browning
Kieron Cuthbertson
Alice Edwards
Amelie Harries
Eve Maisie Mackison
Amelia Thomas

If you’re one of the lucky winners we’ll be in touch with you over the next few days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on winning and to let you know what happens next as your stories are illustrated by the great Angus Bungay and published on Fonetti.

It was incredibly hard for our judges to choose the winners. If you weren’t chosen this time you should still be immensely proud of your work. With such a high standard of writing we’re excited about the future authors amongst you.

So much so, we’re already planning our next competition – so keep an eye on these pages, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information soon.

So, congratulations to Georgia, Anna, Emily, Guru, Arran, Mia, Seth, Lucy, Avyaya, Nitya, Eve, Amelia, Phoebe, Sebastian, Alice, Kieron and Amelie and thank you all once again.

The Judges

Stories were judged by these phenomenal writers:

Clare Balding

Clare Balding

National treasure, broadcaster and author of ‘My Animals and Other Family’

Francesca Simon (author approved)

Francesca Simon

Author of the famous Horrid Henry series

Greg James

Greg James

Radio DJ, TV presenter and co-author of the popular Kid Normal series

Chris Smith - credit Jenny Smith

Chris Smith

Radio presenter and co-author of the popular Kid Normal series

Halloween Hunt

Halloween Hunt

Halloween Hunt

There’s something in the air…cooler weather, darker nights and crackling branches. Halloween is coming. If you look closely you might see the orange glow shining from pumpkin patches – lanterns waiting to be picked.

You might spot bats darting in the night sky. And if you open Fonetti you’ll see trick or treat is still very much happening this Halloween.

Hidden inside six of our stories are some petrifying pumpkins…

the question is which ones?

For the chance to win a Android tablet, simply search our stories for six pumpkins and drop us a message to, stating in which book and on what page they appeared.

But hurry, the competition closes at midnight on 31st October.

Sadsville is available for FREE on the Fonetti app

Sadsville is available for FREE on the Fonetti app

Sadsville is available for FREE on the Fonetti app

Author and TV Presenter Martin Roberts is launching a new initiative for schools with the ‘Sadsville‘ story from ‘The Villes’ series, from October 5th.  Not only will every UK primary school and 4,000 libraries receive a copy, Sadsville will also be available as an interactive listening book exclusively on Fonetti for children to read at home.

Covid has impacted children considerably and the extent of this may not be realised for some time. Child depression, anxiety and sadness is on the increase as a result and Martin hopes his story can support children and encourage them to ask for help.

Sadsville tackles the theme of child sadness through a story, written to raise awareness of the fantastic work of Childline and the NSPCC. Aimed particularly at children in Year 4 (8 and 9 year olds), Sadsville opens a discussion about emotional issues and reassures children that help is always at hand. Together with Fonetti, Sadsville will support schools as they gently welcome pupils back into class. The launch also coincides with World Mental Health Day on October 10th.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC explains:

“Sadsville introduces children to problem solving and explains that you can be sad for a number of different reasons and encourages them to have the confidence to seek help. The number of additional children using the Childline service as a direct result of this initiative could be highly significant.”

Teachers will also receive additional lesson plan resources to support their school. Over 70% of children who’ve already read Sadsville, when surveyed, revealed that they felt ‘better able to cope with sadness’ as a result of reading the book.

We are delighted to be able to support The Martin Roberts Foundation by providing Sadsville on the Fonetti App, totally free of charge.

It is our aim to help founder Martin Roberts achieve his personal vision, to provide a copy of Sadsville into the hands of as many children as practically possible, and our digital technology provides the perfect platform, especially in the current climate.

There has never been a more critical time to support our children and their mental wellbeing. We are proud to have been given the opportunity to partner in the project and to play a small part in this grand ambition.