Reading Aloud: A fear of fiction or failure

by | May 26, 2020 | EAL, Literacy, SEND

Throughout fiction it’s often the introverts that become the quiet heroes. The ones that turn their shyness into a superpower. Think Matilda, Boo Radley and Bilbo Baggins – they all find their inner strength from their introverted nature. And their characters reassure young readers in their company, that they too can overcome the anxieties caused by their shyness.

Reading about the adventures of these protagonists to themselves can be a comfort to a shy child. But reading a few pages aloud to their class can be a game-changer, not only to their confidence but to their enjoyment and perceptions of reading on the whole.

To a shy child, being asked to read even a sentence aloud can be the greatest challenge to overcome.

Maybe they’re embarrassed.

Maybe they’re scared of saying the wrong thing, worried they’ll look silly or be judged by their classmates.

Maybe it’s the attention they don’t like – the spotlight suddenly shining on them, sentence by sentence. Whatever the reason, the fear is the same.

As is the sensation of butterflies in their tummy, flushed cheeks, sweaty palms and quivering voice – all unwelcome symptoms that tar a love of stories by association. And all avoidable.

Reading aloud should be fun – not feared

As a parent you can remember your own experience of assemblies, school plays and classroom reading. How did those experiences shape your adult life?

Reading aloud is a life-skill. Presenting to an audience and being able to communicate confidently is not only valuable academically but personally too. It helps us with exams, job interviews and gives us reassurance just re-reading documents for clarity on a daily basis.

Anxiety builds quickly and a bad experience at school, for a shy child, can have a huge impact on their adult life. But there’s one word that can stop fear in its tracks: Fonetti.

Ultimate app for reading aloud

Fonetti offers a private platform for children to practice reading aloud. It’s a world of stories, fun and fiction that helps build confidence through praise and rewards, far from the ears of judging peers or a classroom environment. It’s a reading revolution that’s taking the world by storm and building confidence by the minute.

Approved by the Department for Education’s Hungry Little Minds campaign. Fonetti is the world’s first listening bookshop. And right now, it’s the reading assistant available to every home and is the technology behind interactive reading.

Think of it as karaoke, but for speech rather than song. Children choose a story and start reading aloud. When they get the words right, they turn green. If they get stuck, they double tap for help. So, they can practice again and again, with confidence – as there’s no one else listening to them but themselves. When they finish a book, they win rewards, stars and fanfares…and soon start to love reading.

Mum of three, Kelly Williams explains:

“Freddie’s always been a shy little boy – he loves school, don’t get me wrong, but he’s quite happy to let others put their hand up and take the lead. Having an older brother and sister, he’s used to others speaking for him in one way.

My husband and I thought school would help him come out of his shell a little and weren’t worried about his school work until he had to learn lines for his school assembly. I’ll never forget how he came home in bits. He knew the words and could read them to himself but just struggled to say them aloud – even to his big brother. So, we tried to find him some help and thankfully found Fonetti.

After just two days of using the app, something changed. It was as if he’d found his voice for the first time and would take himself off to the sofa to read but aloud. I remember us both putting shopping away in the kitchen and hearing Freddie’s voice in the living room as he read. 

I’ll be honest, it made me a bit emotional…but watching him in his school play a week later made me even more. I couldn’t have been prouder. His voice didn’t boom like the other kids but he said his lines out loud without a wobble and with a smile. We’ve not doubt that was helped by Fonetti.”

Independent but informed

Fonetti gives children the freedom to read without needing support from an adult. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep track of their progress. Fonetti keeps parents, like you, up to date with what your children are reading. You’ll receive regular weekly updates that tell you:

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

It also tells you when they’ve reached a new reading level. Designed by speech recognition experts at the University of Edinburgh, Fonetti can recognise readers speaking English as a second language, those with dyslexia and SEN.

It also senses when a child is shy by how many pauses they take and how softly they speak. It’s that intuitive. So, it can support every reader individually and allow them to read at their own pace.

Together we can turn timid readers into confident speakers of the future. Ones that love to talk to an audience and love to share a story.

Let Fonetti be the start of theirs.