Literacy through lockdown – supporting libraries with stories

gravatar by Cat Roberts Young  on June 10th 2020

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Covid has closed the doors of so many places we love. Restaurants, retail outlets, the homes of loved ones and the home of stories – our libraries. Whether school libraries, local libraries or mobile ones that feed hungry readers with books in rural and remote locations – our libraries are at the heart of our communities. For many pre and primary school children, libraries are so much more than shelves full of books. They provide technology and the opportunity to access stories for free. For parents, like you, they provide friendship and interactive reading with ‘wriggly readers’ sessions and book clubs for all ages. So, what do you do while their doors are closed? While their shelves are stocked fully but are sadly gathering dust? You know that children need stories now more than ever. However, for many, the financial pressures of each household right now mean that new books are a luxury item currently out of budget. But does this mean that until social distancing can be implemented and books safely sanitised that sharing stories is off limits? Well here’s some good news: Not on our watch.

Stories on demand – any time, any place

Library shelves may be out of reach at the moment but ours aren’t. Fonetti can fill the void that’s missing and keep your children reading without you needing to leave your home. All you need is an iPad. Fonetti is an iPad app and reading revolution that’s taking the world by storm. It’s the reading assistant available to homes across the globe and is the technology behind interactive reading. Approved by the Department for Education’s Hungry Little Minds campaign as a platform for children to practise their reading, Fonetti is the world’s first listening bookshop. And it’s free for three months.

How does it work?

Think reverse Karaoke, as Fonetti is more about speech 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 and can hear how the word should sound. So, they can practise 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…as well as a growing love of reading. What’s more, it’s easy to use, so much so, children from 4 years upwards can use it independently. From ABC books to early readers and beyond, there’s stories on our shelves for every age and ability. So, this means you can finally grab five minutes to yourself while the kids read but you can also track their progress.


Libraries and lockdown 1
Libraries and lockdown 2.1
Libraries and lockdown 3

More than stories

Fonetti keeps parents in touch 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 will also tell you if they’ve reached a new reading level so you can give them praise for their hard work. Designed by linguistic professors at the University of Edinburgh, Fonetti can recognise readers speaking English as a second language, those with dyslexia and SEN. So, it can support every reader individually and allow them to read at their own pace. And with up to four users per app, siblings can still share stories as they would if they chose them from a library.

How does Fonetti compare to your library?

We’ll never ask your children to be quiet. Fonetti needs noise so the rebels will be pleased. We do share some similarities to your library though, we provide:

  • Shelves overflowing with new books
  • Free access to stories for three months
  • A community for kids to share their favourite stories via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or with their schools and siblings
  • Opportunities for young writers like our current Young Authors’ Competition, where your children’s stories could be illustrated, published and shared on Fonetti.

But we’re also proud of our differences too. Unlike libraries, with us you won’t:

  • Wait for new releases – your children can read them as soon as they’re launched
  • Pay any penalties – your kids can read their favourite stories as many times as they like
  • Find a favourite story is out of stock – you can access any title regardless of how many other children are reading it at the same time
  • Need to sterilise a story before you open it – just keep your tablet screen clean if it’s a shared device.

Don’t just take our word for it

Libraries may be locked.  Life as we knew it may still be on hold but adventures aren’t, reading isn’t and stories haven’t been shelved. With us they’re ready to be shared. Fonetti offers a lifeline to literacy in lockdown. It’s a world of escapism that brings fresh new stories to your home every time your children swipe the screen. Unlock a new world of words for your children. A virtual one that a virus can’t close.

Fonetti The Listerning Bookshop
Fonetti Libraries
The World First Listening Bookshop


Fonetti is offering 3 months free access to all children throughout the current lockdown period.

Download the app from the App Store and receive 3 months free!

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