Recently, we have been carefully and systematically updating our reading scheme books. This process has been undertaken for a number of reasons:
The DfE, and OFSTED, have stated that from September, children, who are on the phonics scheme, must be given a book, which is precisely matched to their current phonetic knowledge.
To ensure that all children, regardless of their age or ability, have access to a book which is matched to their current reading ability in terms of both their decoding and comprehension abilities.
To allow for systematic and appropriate progression within the scheme, which can be easily assessed and tracked.
To ensure that concepts within the texts are matched to the children’s maturity.
To provide confident, advanced readers with books that will challenge their vocabulary and analytical skills, as well as continue to foster a love of reading.
To increase the level of engagement of the children with the books they are reading.
To make sure that there are high interest books, matched to their chronological age for older children who maybe struggling with reading. Where appropriate, these will be directly matched to their phonic knowledge.
To improve and instil a passion for reading. Reading for pleasure is of the upmost importance. The updated reading scheme has allowed us to select a variety of different books, from a range of topics and genres that are designed to hook in to the interests of the children.
As a result, we will be using the coloured Book Band system for all the children’s personal reading books. More in-depth information about the colours and how you can help your child, working at any level, can be found in our “Parents’ Guide to Book Bands”, which has been sent out to all parents and can also be found below.
This means that for the children, who are no longer on the phonics scheme, there will be more of an adult input when they are choosing their books within their colour. However, the children will still be able to borrow a book from both their classroom libraries and the school library – when this opens - which will be completely and independently chosen by them, according to their interests.
For children who are working on phase 1 of our phonics programme (in Nursery and Reception), wordless Lilac books will be given to introduce the concept of books. Those children who are “Free Readers” (Brown- Black), will have less adult direction and will be able to “freely” choose a book within their Book Band. However, it is important that they are reading a range of different text types and genres so they may occasionally have books or text types suggested to them to choose from. Again, more information about this can be found in the “Parents Guide to Book Bands”. However, some frequently asked questions are:
What are Book Bands?
Book banding is a national scheme that grades children’s reading books according to the difficulty of the text. Each level of book is given a colour. Book banding is designed to help schools grade children’s reading book across schemes. Children should be able to read at least 90% of the words on the page without any problem. If the book is too easy, they can become bored. If it’s too difficult, they can become frustrated and may have to concentrate so hard on reading the words that they lose the enjoyment of understanding the text.
How are the books levelled?
All educational publishers grade their scheme to their specifications but the Book Band system is far broader in its levelling, as it can also include non-scheme books. It is based on careful research into: the kind of words used in each book, the length of the sentences, punctuation, story style or nonfiction format and text size (otherwise known as a lexile score or level). It also supports a progression of reading strategies.
How are the children assessed?
To ascertain your child’s current reading level, a variety of systems have been used. An assessment scheme, directly aligned with the Book Bands, has been undertaken with the children to aid this process. This assesses the children’s “word reading rate” for each Book Band level along with their accuracy. Alongside this, phonics checks have been undertaken for each child, who is currently accessing phases 2-5, to allow the selected books to be aligned precisely with his/her phonic knowledge. Furthermore, your child’s comprehension of the texts, as well as their reading fluency, has been taken into account. This has been assessed through the Book Band reading assessment, teacher assessment and from your child’s most recent INCAS tests. Many children can decode fluently but do not always understand the concepts covered or that are implied in the text. It is important that your child has a level of a book, which is appropriately challenging in terms of word count, word choice, comprehension and also the content, themes and concepts are also appropriate for the maturity of the child.
My child was a free reader and now they are back on the reading scheme. Why?
Children who were free-readers previously were still directed to specific books for their level. This has not changed, instead the free-reader books have been replenished and divided into further categories to make sure the texts are challenging and appropriate for their age. Those children who are “Free Readers” (Brown- Black), will have less adult direction and will be able to “freely” choose a book within their Book Band. However, it is important that they are reading a range of different text types and genres so they may occasionally have books or text types suggested to them to choose from. Again, more information about this can be found in the “Parents Guide to Book Bands”.