English teacher's reading app disrupts market

Hannah Rix of Readingmate

English teacher Hannah Rix of Readingmate - Credit: Nick Donovan

An English teacher is hoping to inspire children to read for pleasure during lockdown - rather than to simply pass tests.

Hannah Rix, of Ditchingham near Bungay, and husband James have founded Readingmate to inspire a love of reading in children while funding literacy programmes in schools and donating to literacy charities.

With the help of a literacy app, a learning hub and a bookstore which gives back to schools and charities, the brand hopes to support parents with home schooling during the pandemic.

"We are in a competitive industry with a globally dominant player," Ms Rix said. "We can’t compete on price, but we believe we can compete for the hearts and minds of parents. We will do this by giving back to their communities and the most vulnerable in society.

“We want to put the love and enthusiasm back into reading. We believe reading is the pathway to a full and happy life but some children are lacking in confidence and passion towards it. Readingmate aims to shift this perception and make reading the better and more exciting option for all children."

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The latest lockdown and school closures has meant parents are on the lookout for free resources to keep their children learning at home, she explained.

The Readingmate app is free and available to download on both iOS and Android devices. For every book bought through Readingmate, 10p goes to fund reading programmes and for schools in the user’s area. Another 10p goes to literary charities.

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Ms Rix - who has spent seven years teaching English - said the initial prototype was widely adopted by parents who desperately wanted to keep their children reading while schools were closed.

She admitted what while she has enjoyed enriching her students' lives with her own love of reading she has often felt frustrated at having to compete with her students' smartphones for attention.

It inspired her to set up the Readingmate app, which is designed to get children reading for pleasure and rewards them with badges and reading streaks for the amount of time spent reading - rather than reading ability or the amount of books read.

It includes an in-built calendar to help track their progress. As a teacher of children with special educational needs and learning disabilities, Ms Rix said she wanted to ensure that the app was accessible to all abilities.

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