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Can we talk about approaching free reading

(60 Posts)
Shattereddreams Tue 26-Feb-13 21:32:33

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.

Shattereddreams Tue 26-Feb-13 22:53:30

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>>

Shattereddreams Tue 26-Feb-13 22:57:54

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.

Shattereddreams Tue 26-Feb-13 22:59:34

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.

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