As in many families, our sons get a lot of stick for being stuck to screens. Laptops, console games on TV or their phones.

But how many people stop to think what they might be doing?

What are you doing?

When I ask, I often find it's home work or computer graphics/video editing on a laptop (sadly rarely coding), Minecraft on console games (which can be used to great effect educationally and usually, IMHO, fairly meaningless social media on phones (I mean they aren't on a mission to change the world yet are they).

Last night I asked and it turned out my youngest (11) said he was reading stories!!! What???

It turned out he was reading short stories, a line at a time in what seems to be one of the hottest apps at the moment, Hooked. In one short journey he'd read a dozen short stories.

Drip reading

Basically  the app drips a story to you a line of narrative at a time, with the off picture thrown in. YOu get so many lines for free and then wait an hour for more. Cliff hangers encourage you to sign up for a weekly, monthly or annual subscription.

Reviews talk about 'Lackluster text-message stories feature lots of violence' and 'adult themes'. While Apple have rated it for age 9+, one comments says 'The rating is way off: I have a 12-year-old, and I would never let her use this app. Following the screenshots below, first, you select from story genresTitles within a genre vary, but almost every story includes a thread of sex (gay (lesbian) themes are prevalent), violence, drug use, and horror.

Once you select a story, you then click “next” to reveal a story, chat by chat. It’s fascinating (and sobering) that even the young people writing these chat stories know what sells (remember, ATTENTION is the new currency of the web)'.

What do you think?

Anything that gets kids hooked on reading has to be good, doesn't it? Or does it?

I guess the question is how can this engaging, almost addictive way, of drip feeding reading to kids be used for good.

The publishers of Hooked seem to call for authors to submit stories and content though I can't imagine the revenue model is anything like Kindle's. 

Maybe we need to get children's authors to publish a few age appropriate stories on the platform and turn this into an app for good.  What say you Michael Rosen, Alan Gibbons?


As a dad who thought he'd done his best and that it was good enough, this film and campaign really touched me when it came out a couple of years ago.

It talks simply about the greatest gift any parent can give a child, the love of readiing by giving them just ten minutes a day to read with them. But who does this? And why not? And what's the likely impact?

It was launched by a consortium led by Save The Children and The National Literacy Trust in an week long campaign that saw it featured every morning on ITV's 'Good Morning Britain' backed up by household names like David Walliams and in a tie up with The Sun and TImes/Sunday Times newspapers (albeit behind a fire wall -  doh!)

This 3 minute film shows a young boy asking his dad to read with him, but dad has had a tough day and just wants to watch TV and falls asleep and has a nightmare. The nightmare of the life of every illiterate child.

Powerful stuff, powerfully executed yet I'm still surprised by the number of teachers and leaders I meet, SENCOs and Literacy specialists who haven't seen this film. Every parent should watch this. And think. And make time.

Are you teaching or testing comprehension?

Check out this 2 minute film I threw together that pulls all the stuff I'm doing around literacy into one place - jump-starting struggling reads with decoding intervention, teaching (not just testing) comprehension strategies) and how a book my 80 year old dad literally changed my life and ic conncting kids with reaidng and creativity across the country.

Thanks to legendary headteacher Vic Goddard for sharing his thoughts at the end.