Actress and musical star Kara Tointon has launched a new storytelling app that she hopes will bring families together during lockdown.
TELL is the first app to combine storytelling, voice interaction and illustrations. Free to use throughout lockdown, the aim is to help children of all abilities to build their confidence with reading and to bring families together.
Speaking on Up Close and Socially Distanced, Kara told host Kate Thornton that even though the app launched in December, the pandemic has given it a new lease of life.
“The app's developed through the coronavirus into something else,” she said. “I know a grandparent who is setting their alarm at 4 o'clock every day. They're doing 10 minutes of reading with a cup of tea, and it's becoming part of the structure of their day.
“I think we're all using our time in a different way… So that was really great to hear, and then their grandchild is requesting the next story back.”
As an Ambassador for Dyslexia UK, Kara developed the app in a way that helps children with dyslexia with their reading by helping them reading out loud. Dyslexic herself, this is the one thing that really helped her conquer it.
“When you read a line, as a dyslexic, it's all disjointed,” she explained to Kate. “But I was always told that if I read verbally, out loud, it would help me scan the line quicker, therefore helping me to read with a kind of flow.”
She continued: “I want TELL to help kids with their reading out loud, because I know that at school, when you read out loud in front of the class, I just couldn’t do it, unless I was in a comfortable space. You press the Record button. You can be alone. You can read out loud. You can go back and listen to it.”
As well as providing parents with another tool in their arsenal to home school their children, Kara is hoping the app is also helping children sick in hospital who may not be able to see their families during the pandemic.
The former EastEnders star said: “We're talking to GOSH charity, Great Ormond Street, and working with them to support them going forward, after the crisis into the future.”
Ultimately, Kara hopes that TELL, which is currently being crowdfunded to bring more stories to the app, can help bring families together during these uncertain times.
“Families are being put in incredibly difficult situations in being separated and not able to come together,” she said. “It's fantastic that we could use TELL, even in a small way, to help families connect and take their loved ones' minds off of everything.”
Up Close And Socially Distant is hosted by Kate Thornton and features weekly video catch-ups with people who are all doing whatever they can to help those around them get through lockdown.
This week, Kate speaks to Strictly winner and actress, Kara Tointon, about her new storytelling app connecting families in lockdown called TELL, to kidney transplant specialist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr Adnan Sharif, on investigating the disproportionate way COVID-19 is affecting those from BAME communities, and to Annemarie Plas, who started the event that has swept the nation, our weekly Clap for Carers.