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Reading Book Banding

What is Book Banding?


Book Banding is a national scheme that grades children’s reading books according to the difficulty of the text. Each level of books is given a colour.


Book banding


Why Book Band?


When a child is learning to read, it is important that they have access to lots of different kinds of books (poetry, fiction and non‐fiction) and a wide vocabulary. Many reading schemes have their own core vocabulary and teachers have found that children sometimes struggle when they are asked to read something different. Book Banding is designed to help schools grade their reading books across schemes. Children have access to the variety they need, whilst still being supported at the right reading level for them.


How are the books levelled?


All publishers grade their scheme to their own specifications but the Book Band system is much broader in its levelling. It is based on careful research into the kind of words used in each book, the length of the sentences, punctuation, story style or non‐fiction format and text size. It also supports a progression of reading strategies. 


What can I expect? 


Your child will initially be assessed for the correct Book Band colour and will bring home books from various schemes within that colour. It may be, because of the broader natures of Book Band levelling, there are books from different levels of the same reading scheme in one colour band, for example, if your child is reading within the red band, they will receive a range of books from stages 1,2 and 3 but not necessarily in consecutive order. Alongside Oxford Reading Tree, your child will bring home a range of books from other reading schemes. As long as the book is in your child’s book band colour, the level is right for them.


When will my child move to the next colour band? 


For a child to be an effective reader, they need to not only read the words on the page, but also understand what they have read. For this to happen, they need to read with 98% accuracy (that is only 2 errors in every 100 words). The school will carefully monitor your child’s reading and move them to the next colour band when they are ready and can demonstrate a good understanding (comprehension) alongside a good sight vocabulary. We will also be encouraging the reader’s ability to recognise punctuation and read confidently with expression. 


How can I help my child at home? 


Read, read, read and discuss, discuss discuss! Like with most things, reading improves with practise. Just 5 to 10 minutes of reading everyday will make such a difference. These are some tips on listening to your child read: Ask the child to revisit what they have read (or tell the story in their own words). If he/she has a new book, introduce the title and look through the book, talking about the pictures (where appropriate). 


When your child comes to an unfamiliar word, the following strategies may be useful:

•    Sound out the word and then say it (blend it) 
•    Chunking eg, ch ur ch 
•    Looking for words within words, eg seaside – sea and side
•    Reading the full sentence, to give a clue to an unfamiliar word 
•    Use the pictures for clues


During reading, give specific praise, eg I liked the way you ….. Try to ask questions to check their understanding of the story eg, what happened when the cat caught the mouse? How did Jo feel when his teacher rewarded him (and why?) Discuss and predict what may happen next. It is good to reread the same book more than once, as this helps your child to consolidate the vocabulary and the events in the story. Your child may even decide to make their own version of the story by changing one thing, or acting it out as a play or even making puppets to retell the story.