What’s the Best Reading App for Kids?

What’s the Best Reading App for Kids?

What’s the Best Reading App for Kids?

It can be tough to find the best reading practise app…

Want your stir-crazy child to practise their reading?

Then you’ve plenty of (perhaps too much?) choice. Indeed the Guardian reviewed 20 educational apps!

So this comparison of traditional books versus the various technologies out there, aims to help you make an informed choice.

And the best bit?

There’s a free bonus at the end…

Free stories to read in the educational app we’re sure is the best way for children to practise reading at home and at school.

Introducing Fonetti – the reading practise app

Fonetti makes reading fun!

It’s a great way to help a primary school child practise reading because Fonetti is:

  1. Portable
  2. Digital and easy-to-use
  3. Has the major bonus of interactive reading
  4. Being increasingly adopted by primary schools (schools can optionally assign kids books to read at home or in school and track their progress)

Fonetti actually listens to your child read.

So, how does Fonetti work?

Think reverse Karaoke, but for speech more than song.

Confused?

It’s actually more intuitive than you think.

Think of training the speech recognition app in your phone to listen to a whole story as your child reads aloud.

Fonetti’s proprietary speech recognition engine does just that and changes the colour of each word (black to green) when each word is pronounced correctly.  

Fonetti works like this:

Children choose a story and start reading aloud.

When they finish a book, they win rewards, stars and fanfares!

When children say the words correctly, the words turn green.

If they get stuck, they double-tap the ‘tricky’ word to hear it spoken aloud.

Sounds more complicated than it is – and kids pick it up in a moment. 

Check out Fonetti in the brief video below: 

Fonetti helps children:

  • perfect their pronunciation
  • boost their literacy
  • build their confidence

with every page they turn.

Which is why we’re sure Fonetti is the best educational app for primary school kids!

Sounds good right?

But does it support the National Curriculum?

Does it provide good educational value?

Do the books on Fonetti meet the UK National Curriculum?

There’s an easy way to tell which reading practise app is best. 

And it’s as simple as looking for a logo:

The UK Government’s Department for Education’s Hungry Little Minds programme provides a quality mark to apps that an independent educational panel believe have good educational value.

Where you see their logo, you know a learning app has been endorsed by them and is an approved platform.

DfE logo - standard jpg
Hungry Little Mind Elements_2020 (Fonetti and DfE) NS (300w)

Approved educational apps – do they help a child learn to read?

Both phonics heroes for early readers of learning sounds, and Fonetti, for readers of all levels and abilities – are approved educational apps for children to practise their reading. 

Fonetti helps a child build confidence with independent reading.

But what about the different formats like eBooks or audiobooks?  

What are the different reading formats for kids aged 4-8 years?

Picture books and early readers are the most popular books for this age group.

These span a variety of genres from fairy-tales and fantasy to horror and sci-fi.

Although all are fiction, there are several formats for you to choose from:

Listening Books™

Listening books™ are a new, refreshing alternative in the world of learning apps.

Offering all the magic of printed books combined with the flexible functionality of audio and eBooks. We think Listening books™ are the best reading app for kids because they take interactive reading to a whole new level.

Paperback books (including board and hardbacks).

Traditionally, print is the most popular format of books for children. Although times are rapidly changing and Covid has posed a number of challenges to the printed book market.

Books are no longer as easy to ‘borrow’ safely, which most libraries recognise through their continued loan extensions and closed doors.

Despite printed books being relatively accessible in discount book shops like The Works and supermarkets, economics is still having a huge effect as 1 in 9 children in the UK don’t own their own book.

eBooks and audio books

eBooks and audio books are growing in popularity as an alternative to print and a more flexible solution. Most reading apps offer a library of books and popular titles for a small subscription fee.

These books are downloaded via a tablet, phone or electronic device and can be read or played wherever your kids may be. But they rely solely on technology to keep kids focussed.

Fonetti’s clever Listening books™ ignite imagination because each child’s voice brings the story to life in front of their eyes.

Using speech-recognition technology Fonetti listens as your child reads – helping them turn the page with their phonetic pronunciation.

Fonetti builds a child’s confidence as they read aloud – something they probably do often in school, but may need more practise with at home and outside of school hours.

Reading confidently aloud can take time – and what if your child has a different learning style or has special educational needs?

Every child has different learning styles

They may be visual, audial or kinaesthetic (a learning style that requires touch to learn) learners so you’ll need an app that suits their preferred way of learning.

You may also be searching for an educational app that helps children with dyslexia or those that need SEN support.

When investing in screen-time resources it’s important to find a reading app that’s fun, one that will hold your children’s attention – keep them entertained as well as engaged.

And, more importantly one that’s:

  • value for money
  • regularly updated
  • has a library full of books

You get all of these things with Fonetti!

But are your kids spending too much time on screens?

Do you feel guilty?

Reading on a tablet – Fonetti provides guilt-free screen time

If you’ve had an ounce of guilt (over screen time) while looking for a reading app – let it go.

There’s no need to feel guilty when screen time enhances a child’s development.

And Fonetti does exactly that!

What’s more, Fonetti does so responsibly.

Although some reading apps are available on smart phones, Fonetti chose to launch solely on tablets to make sure children can read their listening books™ just as they would a printed book at the

right

font

size

 

Fonetti is available on iPad and Android tablet too.

But how does it compare to other learning apps for kids?

How is Fonetti better than other learning apps for kids?

Fonetti supports every reader individually and allows them to read at their own pace.

It never gets frustrated with them. 

Sharing and comparing?

Yes, you can have four users per app, so siblings can share stories as they would if they chose them from a library. 

Fonetti keeps you informed with what your children are reading:

You’ll receive regular updates that tell you:

  • how long they read for
  • which stories they’ve read
  • the number of times a book has been chosen
  • and what words they’ve struggled with

It will also tell you if they’ve reached a new reading level. (Tick!)

Designed by linguistic professors at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Fonetti can recognise readers speaking English as an additional language, those with dyslexia and SEN.

 You want that BONUS right?

Good news!

It’s FREE to sign-up for Fonetti (payment card needed on sign-up) and there are always free books available (tick!)

BONUS

Get free stories for your kids! 

Sign up is free!

And there are always free stories to read on Fonetti – the best reading practise app for kids!

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.

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 

WINNER

Emily Compton
“How Elephant met Moon”

RUNNER UP

Mia Boyd
“Horrifying Hazel”

WINNER

Guru Kashyap
“Greeny the Caring Tree”

RUNNER UP

Nitya Sharma
“Magic or Science”

WINNER

Anna Deatcher
“The Fun Fight”

RUNNER UP

Avyaya Iyer
“The Watering Cowboys”

WINNER

Arran Wallace
“Funny Bones”

RUNNER UP

Seth Traczykowski
“The Darkest Night”

WINNER & OVERALL WINNER

Georgia Taylor
“In Your Hands”

RUNNER UP

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

Why Listening Books?

Why Listening Books?

Listening Books

Why Listening Books?

How interactive reading is more than just a trend

They’re fun, mobile and interactive but could Listening Books™ just be a fad? The short answer is no. Listening Books are improving literacy by promoting reading aloud. And they’re here to stay. So much more than the latest app trending, Fonetti is an extension of a home and school library that ignites a love of reading.

It’s only natural that storytelling evolves over time. In one way, ‘Listening Books™’ have always existed as humans have listened to stories since time began. From tales told orally around campfires to books borrowed from libraries and audio books listened to through headphones – it’s not the stories themselves that change, just the way we interact with them.

Printed books are still the number one when it comes to reading but many publishers understand their audience crave more interactive ways of bringing stories to life.

Audiobook downloads via QR code are popular on printed picture books and eBooks have also earned their place in the book market.

But there’s a reading revolution taking the world by storm and redefining storytelling. One that shares stories in an entertaining and educational way.

A new format in the world of books. One where the pages are voice-activated and full of adventure.

Introducing the Listening Book™

What makes Listening Books™ so different to eBooks? There are lots of similarities between the two. Both are digitally based and rely on technology to be opened. But by their nature they’re a convenient commodity.

Children can take eBooks and Listening Books™ with them on journeys, holidays, hospital visits and to school – anywhere there’s power and WIFI. Both are interactive – like a cartoon that kids can read to themselves.

And both save space in your home as you don’t need large bookshelves to store them. Digital books have grown in popularity since Covid. Stories don’t need sterilising or putting in quarantine so favourite characters and tales are still available in abundance.

They both sound ideal, don’t they?

But that’s where the similarities end.

Click on an image above to expand it

Listening Books™ boost literacy

Imagine an eBook that improves pronunciation, develops vocabulary and builds confidence. One that takes reading to a whole new level – the Listening Book™. Listening Books™ provide safe and secure story time via a screen.

They’re voice activated, so the pages are powered by pronunciation, positivity and the practise of reading aloud.

And they’re exclusive to Fonetti – The world’s first Listening Bookshop.

How do they work?

Children choose a story from Fonetti’s shelves and start reading. It’s as simple as that. When they get the words right, they turn green, if they get stuck, they double tap for pronunciation tips. When they complete a story, they earn rewards and gain access to different reading levels as they progress.

The benefits of Fonetti Listening Books™

With Fonetti, children develop key communication skills for life. Not only do they develop a love of reading but they build their confidence reading aloud. They learn how much power their voice has, not just to communicate but to make things happen.

Developed with linguists at the University of Edinburgh, Fonetti recognises every UK accent and dialect. It also identifies children reading English as a second language or those with SEND needs. For children with dyslexia, ADHD, Autism, a speech impediment or those who are painfully shy, reading aloud in the classroom can incite fear and put unnecessary pressure on young shoulders that should be enjoying reading.

Fonetti makes reading fun.

Children can read independently and enjoy the luxury of taking their own time to pronounce a word. To practise reading over and over again and boost their confidence at the same time.

Unlike eBooks, Listening Books™ provide:

  • Fun and interaction through gamification – all the fun of a tablet game with an educational foundation
  • Feedback – parents and teachers receive updates on which stories a child has read, how often, which words they’ve found tricky, how many times a book has been chosen and what level the reader has progressed to
  • Rewards – kids receive incentives and praise for their efforts to encourage them to keep reading and reach the next level of stories
  • Practise – of pronunciation without an audience, peers or parents
  • Confidence-building technology and independent reading for children aged 4+
  • New stories from well-loved authors as well as those making their debut
  • Classic fairy tales and contemporary favourites

Accredited by the Department for Education’s Hungry Little Minds Campaign as an approved platform for children to practise their reading, Fonetti is a valuable resource in school and at home.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RSSLT) supports the Hungry Little Minds campaign as it celebrates apps that focus on harnessing language and communication.

Fonetti is dedicated to improving children’s literacy – but by giving children the ability to read aloud – independently, the Fonetti Listening Books nurture vital communication skills for life.

Open a Fonetti Listening Book™ today and experience the future of reading first-hand.