At Merriott First School, we encourage children to read for pleasure as well as impressing upon them the importance of learning to read. Children are expected to be reading at least five times a week in every year group and this should be recorded in the reading diary provided each time.
We assign children to a book band based on their word reading skills and their ability to understand and explain what they are reading. Earlier book bands, up to gold, are linked to phonics phases. The book bands are named by colour and follow the pattern below (going left to right along each row):
(Phases 1 and 2)
(Phases 4 and 5)
(Phase 5 and 6)
Children will be assigned to a book band when they enter the school and will then progress through the stages at their own pace until they leave us. It is important to note that the book bands are designed to be different lengths so while some book bands may be completed over a half term, most are designed to last a few months and some up to a year or more, particularly in the higher bands.
For book bands from pink to gold, children should be encouraged to reread their book three times.
The first time the book is read, children should focus on deciphering the text using word reading strategies. These include:
- Using phonics strategies to sound out words
- Recognising common words by sight
- Identifying known words with similar spelling/rhyming patterns
- Reading around the word in a sentence then using the context to work out the word.
The second time the book is read, children should be focusing on:
- Being able to read the text fluently and accurately
- Responding accurately to punctuation
- Ensuring grammar is correctly used
- Developing their understanding of what is happening in the text; being able to retell the story, sequencing events and describing characters and settings.
The third time the book is read, children should be focusing on deepening their understanding, including:
- Talking about their opinions of the book as a whole and of specific events, characters and settings, giving reasons for their ideas
- Discussing the feelings and actions of characters, giving reasons using evidence from the text if possible
- Thinking about why a specific word or phrase has been used by the writer and what effect it creates for the reader
- Making links between the text and other similar texts.
For book bands from white to magenta, children should only need to read a book once but should be encouraged to reread specific sentences and paragraphs where they are less sure of the meaning or meet an unfamiliar word. At this level, children should be able to read a text silently to themselves but should be discussing what they have read with others and answering questions about the text. They should also be using dictionaries to establish the meaning of unfamiliar words.