Can we talk about approaching free reading

(60 Posts)

I'm not bothered by the levels per say, but school send home gold. And I'm not bothered by the label free, I don't really know what it means.

Dd is in Y1 and doing very well. School sent home today (after some nagging via reading record) a happy families book. Dd read it very very easily. Too easily I think. It was a delight to hear her read it, voices, intonation etc.

Relationship with teacher is hostile (a whole other long story) hence wanted to talk here, get reassurance, see how others went though this stage.

So after gold band, it's white and lime? Is this a long or short progression?
I can't find any Biff Chip books on Oxford owl at this level. Do they stop?

simpson Tue 26-Feb-13 21:41:03

Biff and Chip stop at ORT 9 (unless you have the read at home/newer books "Times Chronicles" series but my DC school don't).

I do think that a child will spend longer on the higher level books as there is more to learn (comprehension, inference etc rather than just decoding).

DD is in reception and gets a mixture of white/lime books but tbh the lime books are sometimes a bit tough for her.

On the free reading thing, some schools have reading schemes right up to yr6 although my DC school deem them a "free reader" after lime.

simpson Tue 26-Feb-13 21:43:22

Forgot to say at white level DD gets little chapter books with maybe 7 chapters in (her current one is called "Yummy Scrummy" or something...

Unfortunately she sneaked it out of her school bag and read it to herself, so when we read it tonight I couldn't do the "what might happen next?" type questions as she already knew grin

toomuchicecream Tue 26-Feb-13 21:47:52

She's doing extremely well to be on gold (if it's the same order of book bands as at my school). BUT - now she's reached this level the focus is far less on her decoding of the text and far more on her understanding of what she's read and her ability to relate it to her own experience and the wider world. So questions like: has anything like that ever happened to you, why do you think the author wrote this book, what do you think is going to happen next and why, does this book remind you of any other books you have read, what does xxx word mean (in this context), describe x character - what sort of person do you think they are and why (give reasons from the text not the pictures).

How quickly she passes through this stage depends entirely on how her comprehension progresses and how the school organises its reading books.

simpson Tue 26-Feb-13 22:14:45

DD has to do things like talk about the authors choice of words and which sentence the illustrator has drawn and how they (the illustrator) have got their message across in the picture too...

ie she was reading a Horrid Henry book the other day and it was one about when HH had nits but refused to have the nit shampoo put on him and he called it "stinky smelly nit shampoo" then there was a picture of the nit shampoo in a bottle and I asked DD how you could tell it was stinky/smelly from the drawing and she answered (correctly) that the nit shampoo had a green cloud coming off it...

I think that is a basic example but you get the idea smile

She was also asked by her teacher why HH was called that and not naughty Henry etc which she got right.

But she definately needs to work on the hidden message within text (that is not immediately obvious).

Scootee Tue 26-Feb-13 22:19:11

I think it just depends on the child really. My ds stalled a bit on gold/white because although he is ok with reading the words, he isn't too good with comprehension/thinking about the story. My friend's dd didn't have the same issue and she continued to advance quickly through gold/white/lime and is now a "free" reader. I am not really sure why they are considered free readers after lime in our school. I have a different friend at another school and her ds is doing the Oxford reading tree levels that are higher - I think lime is 11 but their ort levels go up to 16.

ShowOfHands Tue 26-Feb-13 22:23:14

I have a Y1 child too. From about purple level onwards iirc, there was v little emphasis on the actual ability to read the words as tbh at that point, it's all fairly fluent. The focus was v much on comprehension, talking around the book, the author, examining intonation, alliteration, assonance, rhyme, nuances, writing styles and tenses, signposts in the text/pictures to things within the text and external to it etc etc. It moved fairly seamlessly really as dd was voraciously reading chapter books at home and just developing all the skills which make a happy reader purely by being exposed to lots of different books.

So it's now down to exposure really? See what she likes and push her choices a lot wider than rainbow fairies. ?

I am simply longing to discover Enid Blyton with her so we can talk like this jolly ho....

What is a schools role in this - I think in class she is stuck in a guided reading group on level 6 ORT.

simpson Tue 26-Feb-13 22:57:28

How annoying (guided reading in stage 6) dreading this next year.

How often does she read 121 with the teacher/TA??

I do agree with exposure to books. DD is very strong in fiction but hates non fiction with a passion so is getting lots of NF books from school and hating them <<sigh>>

Toomuchicecream actually I think you have answered that last question.

I assume school should be asking all those questions in guided reading (I suspect this is lacking in class) so I will make a note of this for at home.

Simpson school is a real problem - they just got notice to improve in all areas in Ofsted and are in complete denial over findings.

She doesn't read 1-2-1. The TA selects the books but doesn't lead guided reading. (Bangs head off brick wall frequently)

simpson Wed 27-Feb-13 08:07:47

That would concern me greatly.

DD is listened to 2 or 3 times a week 121 but I know this will change in yr1 and it will be lucky if it's once a month!!

How does the teacher know she is ready to move up a level if she doesn't hear her?

PastSellByDate Wed 27-Feb-13 10:13:57

Hi Shattereddreams:

Are school isn't on notice to improve from OFSTED, but your situation sounds very similar so I thought it might help to hear what we decided to do.

1) Have the courage to do your own thing at home - reading more than what the school sends home and often is never wrong.

2) invest/ borrow/ trade for new books and keep the reading as much (and as many different genres) as possible.

3) Mix up reading, have them read to you/ you read to them (great if they're ill or especially tired)/ take turns.

4) Discuss, discuss, discuss: What they like about the book/ what they don't like/ what they think might happen next (in the next adventure for a character/ or just the next chapter)/ Do they like the illustrations? Do they like this author?

5) Spot new words - really make a point of expanding vocabulary by taking the time to introduce new words. From Y3 in KS2 try spotting the grammar: Have them identify the verb (action words/ doing words)/ the nouns (person/ place or thing)/ the adverbs (words describing the action - i.e. quietly in 'talked quietly')/ the adjectives (descriptive words for places/ persons/ things - i.e. the lonely girl/ the beautiful valley/ the grey stone). We also enjoy playing spot the spelling word! In a very badly written BEN10 book from school, we played spot the word 'super' which was used 25 times in one 6 page chapter.

6) Start sharing your childhood favorites - if they're too hard to read right now, that doesn't stop you reading to them. Listening is also a good skill to develop and hearing language above the level of Biff and Chip can never be bad.

7) Ignore groups/ levels. Ultimately the more you read and do at home, the more performance at school will improve. Whether the school recognises it at first or not is by the by - it's also very difficult to judge as a parent because you'll have no idea what level other children are at. So don't worry about the group or NC Level - just use your own inner measure of how you think things are going: i.e. Is your DC reading better now than 6 months ago. Is your DC reading more complicated stories?

Some great resources:

Oxford Owl:

Guardian advice on building a children's library: - books recommended by age

The Book Trust has all sorts of advice: and the book finder link ( lists books by age bands, which is helpful for judging ability & content appropriateness. There also are little synopses of the stories if you haven't heard of them before.


seeker Wed 27-Feb-13 10:17:25

"I am simply longing to discover Enid Blyton with her so we can talk like this jolly ho...."

What's stopping you? Read them to her if she can't quite read them for herself!

Naranji Wed 27-Feb-13 11:18:49

Reading Enid Blyton aloud is a total chore. Buy the audiobooks for her !

Mine read to the TA every single day. She's in year 2 and now choosing her own books from the school libarary (graded), and she's not unusual.

Naranji Wed 27-Feb-13 11:20:08

And don't be pushy! it really isnt worth it for reading. If they want to read they will. dd3 nicked all her sisters horrid henry books and started reading them to herself in year 1. I was quite happy for her to have 'easier' books from school, its all good practice after all.

PolkadotCircus Wed 27-Feb-13 11:28:01

Don't get the angst over this,just get some easy reader paperbacks and do your own thing,why the level hang up.Either she can free read he can't,you don't need school to give you permission re what she reads at home.confused

Go to the library,there are hoards of easy reader books there.I always viewed school books as an extra particularly at this stage.

noisytoys Wed 27-Feb-13 11:28:41

DD (reception) was free reader from yesterday. She started YR on orange band, went straight to lime within a week and was on lime for 4 months ish. All schools are different. DD wasn't going to go free reader just yet but she went 'oh Miss I'm reading the same books over and over again' there was nothing new for her to read and her NC level is in line with her reading level so now she goes to 'the really really big library' for her books smile

PolkadotCircus Wed 27-Feb-13 11:36:58

My 3 were like this,I'm sure because we just read anything and everything at home from day 1,I don't get why parents get so obsessed with school books.

Corgi pups,Magic Tree House,Horrid Henry early readers are good for rec/year 1 free readers.

By the time you get to year 3 and they're all reading anything and everything you'll forget level angst and when,what free reading they did before.

Elibean Wed 27-Feb-13 11:37:02

dd2 also in Y1, on Gold, soon moving to White, and reading (with occasional help) Ottaline at home.

I have no problem with her having easier books from school, they do build her confidence and vocab, which is the rationale for her reading them (as per teacher).

I would just provide a variety of books at home, and let her enjoy whatever she chooses! And in dd2's case, that certainly wouldn't be Biff and Chip. She much prefers the Happy Families/Animal Crackers stories!

Elibean Wed 27-Feb-13 11:38:49

That said, at dd's school, there are only two 'free readers' in her Y1 class, and a couple in the other one. They really like kids to take their time and work through the levels, as its all about building a solid base - once they are in KS2, they just read everything smile

TuesdayNightDateNight Wed 27-Feb-13 11:54:30

The later levels definitely take longer to get through. DD also yr1 is on gold and although she has no problem with the words, punctuation, intonation etc, her comprehension can be ropey.

As far as I know our school doesn't tend to put yr 1 much higher than gold/white as they like to know they have a really good understanding of the words and topics.

survivingwinter Wed 27-Feb-13 12:48:57

Shouldn't the guided reading be at a band higher than she's reading at home?

Agree 're comprehension at higher bands. It gets tricky when the text and subject matter go beyond the child's ability to read and decode the words. DD reading white books but we spend a lot of time talking about the subtext and meaning of words and language because otherwise a lot of it goes over her head!

bigwigdig Wed 27-Feb-13 13:33:24

Please calm down. She is 5 or 6. She is doing fine. let he choose books from home or the library but stop writing pushy notes in her reading diary and just let her enjoy learning. You will get reputation at school if you don't back off. There are plenty of dcs doing just as well as yours and the teacher knows it. And they will have all of caught up by year 3.

Bonsoir Wed 27-Feb-13 13:41:11

In the UK, many DC are taught to read quite young. You need to remember that a child's ability to read fluently and with enjoyment and comprehension is, once decoding is mastered, largely a factor of their master of spoken English. No child is going to find a book full of words that they don't know the meaning of very interesting! So often, once decoding is mastered, DC spend quite a long time reading books that are not terribly challenging (in parents' eyes!). No fears - the more they read for pleasure, the better, and the more they read and are simultaneously exposed to a broad and deep range of spoken English, the better readers they will eventually become. Films (DVD etc) with good quality spoken English are an excellent way of broadening your child's range of understanding of the spoken word and will feed into his/her reading ability.

littleducks Wed 27-Feb-13 13:45:21

Dd is on yr2 and not a free reader. Nobody in her class is, I think all the infants are on a scheme. I'm really pleased as this means she reads books she wouldn't necessarily choose including some great non fiction things which provide new vocabulary. Of course she reads stuffs she likes/wants at home but I think it is good to keep her reading broad at this point.

simpson Wed 27-Feb-13 19:00:00

In my DC school no body is allowed to become a free reader in KS1 so when they go into yr3 there are loads of them becoming free readers as they have been kept on lime level for ages.

Dreading it with DD as she in on white/lime already and has another 2 years plus to go before year 3...

noisytoys Wed 27-Feb-13 19:02:19

Simpson they must make an exception. Keeping your DD on lime level for 2 and a half years would be ridiculous

simpson Wed 27-Feb-13 19:06:41

I really hope not...

She did have a TA assigned to her and another child in reception but it has been taken away due to "lack of resources" sad

She now has to sit through phonics lessons with the rest of her class learning how to read words she has been able to do for 18 months <<sigh>> it would not bother me except it is starting to bother her, but at least it's only 20 mins of the whole day smile

noisytoys Wed 27-Feb-13 19:11:02

My heart breaks for your DD because my DD is the same age and level as yours but the schools attitudes are so different. My DD goes to Y1 for maths, Y2 for phonics and has a TA for the work she does in reception. I don't understand why schools differ and LAs differ. In my eyes there is no difference in needs between a very bright child and a special needs child they are both at each ends of the spectrum but bright children seem to be forgotten sometimes it's not fair sad

survivingwinter Wed 27-Feb-13 19:59:42

Noisytoys - please don't assume bright children and special needs children are at opposite ends of the spectrum. My dd is bright but also happens to have cerebral palsy! Believe you me, SN children get forgotten too it's all about the school being able to cater effectively for each individual child.

noisytoys Wed 27-Feb-13 20:33:44

Sorry I didn't mean it like that, special needs was the wrong choice of words. What I meant was my DD has an IQ in the top 0.4% and is well catered for in her state school. If a child with an IQ in the bottom 0.4% didn't have their needs met there would quite rightly be an outcry, yet some schools think it is ok not to adequately cater for children with the highest IQs and who are way ahead of their peers. It's almost as if being 'gifted / talented' is a taboo and something to be hush hush about

simpson Wed 27-Feb-13 20:45:12

They have recognised she is "exceptionally gifted" (their words) but want her to enjoy reception and play etc (which is fine with me) but DD herself wants more.

The Head of EYFS is not prepared to do this because she is so young ( DD) but her class teacher does do things on the sly like spelling tests, comprehension questions, she has sat last yrs yr1 phonics test (and passed) and is hoping she can do this years one a year early.

The HT also gives her a reading book and listens to her read each week.

S it is not all bad, but tbh the only thing I wanted was for DD to do guided readi g with kids at or around the same level as her (so yr2) as I think she would love it but the school said nosad

simpson Wed 27-Feb-13 20:45:56

So blush

learnandsay Wed 27-Feb-13 21:07:01

I don't think the colour of the sticker on the school book matters as much as whether or not the teacher is aware of what the child can actually do. My daughter went up a level at the beginning of this week and the teacher wrote in her diary "good blending with unfamiliar words and auto-correcting!!" (With the exclamation marks)

If she'd been reading books with longer words in earlier the teacher would have known earlier that she could blend long words and "figure them out."

You really want a teacher who is teaching the child not one who is taking ages to find out what the child can already do!

That's excellent advice and just what I was after.
Thank you

Re Enid Blyton, yes it is so hard to read aloud, we do Ameila Jane but there are so many character voices to do! I want her to read it herself and understand it so we can pretend to talk like a 1950's family!

I think that I have the fiction sussed.

I have very little non fiction in the house. Do books like cook books count ?

simpson Thu 28-Feb-13 16:24:51

I guess they must. DD's weakness is definately non fiction. Using the glossary (which she is fine with) , contents page and index etc...and retrieving information on "why" type questions (her weakness).

So brain picking again.
Managed to get few minutes with teacher. Are the following acceptable?

Reading 1-2-1 twice a term with an adult
Reading a gold band More Robins book then being given a Purple band Magpies book?

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 20:31:26

Is she enjoying reading? Are you reading to her lots? Are the books she's getting from school roughly the right level for her?

If so, then don't worry- she's doing fine.

sittinginthesun Fri 01-Mar-13 20:54:24

My DS2 is in year 1. Just moved up to Ginn Reading 360 level 8 (no idea what colour band, but 7 chapters, 40 odd pages long etc).

He does guided reading weekly, but probably only heard by teacher twice a term - but I have v. good relationship with teacher. I listen to him read, note in his reading record when I think he needs listening to, and it is always acted on.

I was just saying to the teacher earlier that I like the scheme books for infants. We have a fabulous library, but there are only so many books an infant child wants to read. I like the Ginn books - they are good little stories, a good length etc.

Of course, we also have Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Beast Quest etc, but I think the structure of the scheme is good, until the child shows an inclination to move on naturally to free reading.

simpson Fri 01-Mar-13 20:55:01

Are you sure she is not heard more often but it's not recorded iyswim??

The variation in colour band...does your DD choose her own school book? (although IMO they should be banded all gold together, all purple together etc) or is one fiction and another non fiction??

DD reads at a lower level for non fiction as it depends on the individual book, anything from stage 7-11...

sittinginthesun Fri 01-Mar-13 20:58:04

Actually, reading again - what Seeker said. Is she enjoying reading?

thegreylady Fri 01-Mar-13 21:09:11

I was just looking at the ORT levels and the colours seem to stop at a dark red with an age of 10/11 where are gold and white please?
my dgs is 6,in Yr1 and reading turqoise with some purple which seems ok for his age.He will 'free read' age appropriate books at home though he prefers non-fiction.

mrz Fri 01-Mar-13 21:14:42

The colour bands are
dark blue
dark red

simpson Fri 01-Mar-13 21:14:48

Thegreylady - gold is stage 9, white is 10 and lime is 11...

Haberdashery Fri 01-Mar-13 21:17:20

DD (also Y1) has been off reading scheme books for some time. She brings home age appropriate 'real' books now. She rarely reads with an adult at school any more, apart from guided reading, as (quite reasonably) their limited time to hear readers is MUCH better spent on those who cannot yet read fluently.

Your DD is doing well for her age/year group. I wouldn't worry about it, honestly. If I were you, I'd try to get her as much appropriate and interesting reading material as you possibly can and let her get on with it. It doesn't matter if she occasionally gets an easyish book home from school as long as she doesn't mind.

sittinginthesun Fri 01-Mar-13 21:20:26

Mrz - any idea what Ginn level 8 pocket books are?

mrz Fri 01-Mar-13 21:27:43

white /lime

sittinginthesun Fri 01-Mar-13 21:34:15

Thanks. smile

She loves reading. And yes she is doing well. But that's all her own steam, so I sort of wonder what else is achievable.

Teacher choice to send home gold then purple. In guided reading she has to do orange and just recently turquoise. Her group expands from bottom up but she isn't allowed to join the group above, Even though a child in the group above has the same book as her just 3 weeks ago.

I'm not happy with their methods of madness. Just wondering if anyone else has similar scenario which would normalise them or whether they are actually mad.

thegreylady Fri 01-Mar-13 21:46:37

Thanks smile

thegreylady Fri 01-Mar-13 21:53:20

Interesting-on the chart I have it goes:
pink,red,yellow,blue,green,orange,turqoise,purple,brown,grey,dark blue,dark red.
Stages 9,10 and 11 are all under brown and gold,lime,white don't appear at all!

katrinefonsmark Fri 01-Mar-13 21:56:23

I'm sure I wasn't much more than than an amoebic mass when I was 6. I may not even have been able to read.

Haberdashery Fri 01-Mar-13 22:01:25

>> she isn't allowed to join the group above, Even though a child in the group above has the same book as her just 3 weeks ago.

I'd guess there's something that she's missing there, then. Comprehension? Ability to predict what comes next? Vocab? Fluency/expression when reading aloud? I don't know. Can you ask the teacher?

I have no idea. I'm not a teacher. For DD, the gap between fairly high levels of reading scheme books and really honestly being able to pick most things up and understand them (not just read them) was only filled by just reading lots of different things. The other day I lay on my bed when I was feeling a bit poorly and DD read me an interesting article about gardening from an actual newspaper. It was lovely! Bugger Enid Blyton.

Since your child is a good reader, all you can really do is just make sure she wants to read. You say she likes reading. That's worth a lot more than being in the top group!

mrz Fri 01-Mar-13 22:03:17
Fourkisses Fri 01-Mar-13 22:32:27

Sorry to hijack but can anyone recommend some good chapter books for a 6yo girl who's on purple level? I thought about rainbow fairies hell but she struggled with it. She wants to read by herself at bedtime so it can't be too challenging

simpson Fri 01-Mar-13 22:41:00

My DD likes Topsy and Tim (but they are not chapter books) she also likes the Happy Families series (Mr Creep the Crook etc) chapter book wise she liked Frog and Toad (they are truly fab), Mercy Watson (chapter books about a pig), Horrid Henry, Morris the Cat and she has just started The 3 Little Witches....

A friend has pointed me towards these docs which provide some ideas on comprehension questions you can ask during reading at home - something I was really struggling with (and for which school provide NO support):

simpson Fri 01-Mar-13 22:57:26

Very useful thank you. Especially the non fiction ones which DD needs...

Fourkisses Sat 02-Mar-13 08:12:55

Brilliant. Thanks Simpson

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