Our World Needs a Clean

Our World Needs a Clean

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Literacy, News

The timeless magic of storytelling

We’re living in surreal times. Like you, we know it’s incredibly hard to explain to children just why their world has changed so dramatically. As a parent you naturally want to shield them from anything that will scare them, yet at the same time you want to be able to answer their questions as honestly as possible. Every generation has faced challenges and we’ve learnt to adapt out of necessity rather than choice. But as a species we have stories to thank for our evolution. Stories are the one thing we can guarantee will survive. Stories have an incredible power to teach. From the days when words uttered around campfires became lessons to live by, stories today still hold the key to communication.

Tablet screens are today what cave paintings were to the past and, here at Fonetti, we value every word that teaches, entertains and reassures our young readers and the writers of tomorrow. So when we first read the wonderful ‘Our World Needs A Clean’ by Nicky Nash we knew it had to be added to our library. To help you as parents but more importantly to be honest with our readers and tell the truth but sprinkled with a little bit of story magic from our world of words.


Nicky explains her reasons for sharing her story:

For me, it took a while for the reality of this pandemic to really sink in. Wuhan seemed so very far away, and although the growing cases of the Coronavirus were being reported daily, I felt so far removed from it all. I’m not sure whether it was denial or naivety.

Then, so suddenly, it was all happening right here in our country, in our county, in our town. The talk of a ‘lockdown’ here in the UK had seemed so impossible, so unlikely, so hard to believe. But so suddenly, it was happening. The thought of not seeing family and friends for weeks, or months, was too heart-breaking to process at first. But it wasn’t about me. It was my children my heart was breaking for. My son, Charlie, is just seven months old. Of course, I worry about how this will affect him but I’m so grateful that he is blissfully unaware of the changes to his world. My daughter, Anna, is nearly three, and for her the changes have been much more significant. No nursery, no friends round to play, no swimming, no park visits, no weekly trips to the library or to soft play. No visits from her beloved Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles, or cousins. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness for them both. With this sadness came an uncertainty about how I could explain to Anna the reasons we could no longer do so many of the things that she loved to do. For the first few days of lockdown, I tried to distract her with other things, and offered rather poor excuses for why we couldn’t go to her favourite places. But it quickly became obvious that this wasn’t sustainable. She needed an explanation, and despite her being young, I wanted to be as honest with her as possible, without frightening her or causing her to worry.


As a Primary School Teacher, I am a great believer of using stories to help children understand events and process emotions, so when my friend sent me a poem that had recently been shared online, I was immediately inspired to adapt it to create a book for my daughter. This fantastic poem told a story of a world that needed cleaning, to rid it of some germs that were spreading everywhere. In the poem, the Kings and Queens decided that they needed to close all the fun places, in order to clean the world up. It was such a clever way to explain the current situation to young children and I knew that my daughter would connect with it positively. I spent a few evenings adapting the words to make it relevant to my daughter’s life, and drew some pictures to aid her understanding. We had never explicitly spoken about germs before, so it was crucial that the pictures were gentle, so she wouldn’t be worried or frightened by this new concept. There were some things that I deliberately didn’t include in the book. For example, the fact that we couldn’t see our wider family. This, I knew, had to be handled separately. Once she had a basic understanding of why her world had changed, I felt it would be easier to give these more difficult messages through gentle conversations later on.

Once I had finished the book, I felt a sense of relief, but also trepidation. I wasn’t 100% sure that I was making the right decision by sharing it with her, and I secretly hoped it may not be necessary, But the next morning, Anna asked if we could go swimming, and I knew it was the right time to read the story to her. As she listened intently, unwelcome tears threatened to appear in my eyes. I felt an overwhelming sense of emotion; concern about how she would react, and relief that I was giving her some much needed answers. By reading it aloud, I also felt that I was finally accepting our new reality, and I think that this was something I needed to do as well. With a reassuring squeeze from my husband, I got to the end of the book (hopefully without Anna noticing my teary eyes!) In true toddler style, she just took it in her stride, asking a few casual questions, and then demanding that I read it again!

This week blog was written by the Fonetti Comms Team and features Nicky Nash, The author of Our World Needs a Clean and was published on 23rd April 2020 

We’ve shared the book together many times now, and she loves the story within it. She’s fully embraced the concept of the Kings and Queens cleaning the world, and she’s amazed me with how quickly and easily she’s accepted this and adapted. She knows that one day, life will go back to normal for her, and she’s content with this. She’s also mastered video calls – often taking on the role of ‘leader’ within the group and has managed to get the whole family involved in group singing and dancing!

It will never cease to amaze me how resilient and adaptable children are. Often, it is us, as parents, who create unnecessary worries by projecting our own anxieties onto our children. I am trying hard to ensure that my children’s memories of this time will be ones of love, laughter and security, rather than worry. I hope that my book has been helpful in achieving this, for my daughter, and any other children who go on to read it.

I am very grateful to Louise Gribbons for giving me permission to adapt her poem in this way, and to Fonetti for enabling me to share my book more widely.
Read ‘Our World Needs A Clean’ on Fonetti today.

A note from our Co-founder/CEO, Kim Antoniou

I was absolutely thrilled to be introduced to Nicky recently and just love the motivation and story behind the book. The idea of going to all of this effort to simply help your own children understand why they are restricted at this incredibly unusual time was extremely compelling for me which is why we asked if we could publish and share the book on Fonetti so that our little readers and their families could get some comfort and pleasure from the story and we were delighted when Nicky said “yes” we could! 

“We are donating 10p to the NHS charities for every single read of the book on Fonetti”

When we first spoke Nicky shared with me her desire to use the book to raise money for the NHS charities and to that end we have shared a link to her fundraising page below.

However, we felt that simply sharing this link did not seem an adequate enough effort on our part so in addition to making the book FREE on our platform forever we have decided that we will donate 10p to the charity every single time the book is read on Fonetti. – So all your little readers need to do help raise cash for our amazing NHS is to read the book aloud and we will donate on their behalf.

Click here to donate to
Nicky’s campaign