Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Reading Levels Explained

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Learning to read is an essential life skill and one that can give great pleasure.

Instilling a love of reading is vital to a child’s future success and, not only that, we are passing down something that is incredibly fun and rewarding.

All the research shows that kids need to be read with (and read to) regularly – ideally every day – for them to become confident readers who are happy to absorb themselves in a book. Reading books that are well suited to your child's ability is really important in growing their confidence. So how do you find a book that matches your child's reading age?

Reading books used in schools are graded by level – also known as book bands, or for Oxford Reading Tree, stages. Your child's reading level should be assigned at school but you can also try this simple test at home.  

To help, we have selected books from across some of the most popular schemes for each level, as well as books for reading aloud or together to develop that love of reading. 

There are lots of great reading programmes: Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat,and more which means there is plenty to choose from. The good news is that the book band levels are largely the same across all the publishers so whether you are looking at Bug Club books or the Oxford reading tree levels, the book bands and age-related expectations remain the same.

See below for an explanation of each level and the book band colours, but please do remember that the ages below are just guidelines – no child is alike. Some will teach themselves to read before they are even at school, others may need longer for phonics to “click” and may be 7 or 8 before they move up from red books.

 Once children reach lime level (sometimes referred to as level 11 or 12) they can read well and the reading level colours are no longer so important. At this point I would personally recommend letting them read anything and everything they want, this may be fiction, non-fiction or comics – no more Biff, Chip and Kipper required!

Every child’s reading journey is different but passing on a love of reading to your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

Lilac and pink book bands

Typical reading ages: 4 and 5 (Reception). Also known as level 1.

Starting to use letter sounds to read simple words.

LILAC books

Lilac books are used together children to learn how to follow stories and often won't have any words at all. This is to help children with comprehension and using pictures to decode the story.

pink books

Once they have started learning phonics, children will learn to sound out and "blend" simple words. Most words in pink books will be phonetic like "cat" or "bug" with some common exception words such as "said" or "the". Most stories are under 10 pages with just a few words on the page.

At home, it is still incredibly important to be reading aloud to children as well as practising their reading. When being read aloud picture books, kids learn things like rhyming, the structure of stories and comprehension. You can also encourage them to recognise or sound out words they know on the page.

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

Reading alone

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading together

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

red & YELLOW book bandS

Typical reading ages: 4 and 5 (Reception & Year 1). Also known as levels 2 & 3.

Using letter sounds to start reading simple words and sentences.

By the time children are on red books, they will know their first-stage phonics sounds including "th" and "ch". Using these sounds, they should be able to decode some longer words and recognise some common "tricky" words by sight.

Children will still enjoy being read picture books as well as practising their own reading. Some may be ready for a longer story either from a more complex picture books or a simple, illustrated chapter book. Reading aloud to your child will help build their stamina and vocabulary.

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading alone

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading together

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

BLUE & green BOOK BANDs

Typical reading ages: 4, 5 and 6 (Year 1 & Year 2). Also known as levels 4 & 5.

Reading more words and longer sentences with less help.

When children progress to blue books they should have the confidence to sound out longer words and will be able to read with much less help than before. 

They will be starting to understand that letters can make different sounds and they should have a good understanding of what they are reading.

When moving on to green books, children should be able to read their whole reading book in one sitting and chat about the story with you. They should also notice their own mistakes more and self-correct.

When reading aloud, don't give up on picture books yet, but, if they have the attention-span, starting to read simple chapter books together will help build their stamina and vocabulary, it helps if they still have illustrations.

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading alone

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading together

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

orange & turquoise book bands

Typical reading ages: 5-7 (Year 1 & Year 2). Also known as levels 6 & 7

Able to read alone and to read lots of everyday words

By the time children progress to orange books, they will be starting to be able to read alone and will be able to read lots of everyday words by sight.

The next stage is being able to read alone, in their heads or aloud, and enjoy the stories. At this stage, moving up book bands is all about comprehension of the book and understanding punctuation, glossaries, content pages etc. rather than decoding words.

At home, aside from reading their reading books, children should be encouraged to try some easier chapter books alone but it is also important to read them more complex stories aloud. Our recommendations for "reading for pleasure" are a mix of books they can tackle alone and stories and picture books for reading together.

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading alone

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading together

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

purple & gold book bands

Typical reading ages: 6-8 (Year 2 & Year 3). Also known as level 8.

Becoming an independent reader.

Children at this level should be reading fluently and confidently most of the time. They should be able to read in their heads without saying the words aloud and enjoy a wide range of books.

This is an age where children can start exploring outside the school reading books. Many children at this stage love large series with dependable plots and some illustrations such as Beast Quest or Rainbow Magic.

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading books

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading for pleasure

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

Brown, white, lime book bands & beyond

Typical reading ages: 6-8+ (Year 2 & Year 3). 

Becoming an independent reader.

Children at this level should be reading fluently and confidently most of the time. They should be able to read in their heads and enjoy a wide range of books.

When children move on to gold and brown books, they should be working on using features like indexes, headings and labels to find information in non-fiction books, in fiction books they should be able to read alone and retell the story to you.

Outside of school, we recommend sticking to colour-illustrated and picture books for a while longer, to help young readers interpret the text and to cement a love of reading. They should be free to choose whatever they want to read at this stage - it may be comics, fact books, joke books or fiction.


Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading books

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

reading for pleasure

Toppsta
2020-08-07
Reading Levels Explained

7th August 2020

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