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Reading: Age 9–10 (Year 5)

In Year 5, your child will be encouraged to read widely. This way, they will become familiar with many different types of language and writing. They will talk about and explore their understanding of a wide range of books including stories, non-fiction, poetry, and play-scripts.

There are a variety of simple things you can do at home to support your child’s developing reading skills. Read on to find out how your child will read at school and how you can help at home.

What your child will learn

Find out how your child will be learning to read in Year 5 (age 9–10):

Understand root words, prefixes, and suffixes

A root word is a word that can stand on its own without prefixes or suffixes.

A prefix is a group of letters that is added to the beginning of a word. This makes a new word. For example, the prefix un- changes words so they mean the opposite. For example, ‘happy’ becomes ‘unhappy’. In this example, ‘happy’ is the ‘root word’.

A suffix is a group of letters that is added to the end of a word.  For example, the suffix –ness turns a word into a noun. For example, ‘happy’ becomes ‘happiness’.

Your child will use their knowledge of root words, prefixes, and suffixes to work out the meaning of words. They will understand how prefixes and suffixes can change meaning.

Read and talk about a wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, and non-fiction

During Year 5, your child will read and listen to a wide range of books, poems, and stories at school. This will help them develop a feel for the types of things that they like to read. By reading widely, they will get to know many different types of language and writing.

Your child will also become more familiar with using reference books such as dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Recommend books to friends

A key part of becoming a reader is being able to talk about the books you like and why you enjoyed them. In Year 5, your child will be encouraged to do this by making recommendations to their friends.

Talk about and compare themes in books

By Year 5, your child will have read a large and growing number of books. This means that they can begin to compare the books they read, thinking about similarities and differences.

At school, they will learn to think about themes in different books and make links between them. For example, they could compare two main characters, or talk about how two different authors approach a similar scene in different ways.

Learn a range of poetry by heart and read poems and playscripts aloud

Your child will study poems or play scripts in Year 4, and will have the chance to perform them to an audience. This helps them learn to read aloud with expression and shows the teacher that they understand the text.

Your child will also be expected to read aloud from their reading books, and will also learn some poems by heart so they can recite them aloud.

Check that the text makes sense to them

As an independent reader in Year 5, your child will be encouraged to check whether what they are reading makes sense to them. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s important they don’t just read on to try and finish the book.

They will be taught to re-read and to think about or look up the meaning of a word. Your child will also be encouraged to use the other words and phrases to work out the meaning.

Read between the lines and use evidence from the text to justify thinking

Sometimes the information in a text is very clear (for example, ‘It was raining’) and easy to understood. However, texts are often a bit more complicated and may require inference to properly understand.

Inference is where some information is left for the reader to read between the lines. They need to make sense of details that are not stated clearly. For example:

Instead of ‘It was raining’, the text might say, ‘Ally shook the water from her umbrella and carefully balanced her soaking coat on the radiator’.

Being able to make inferences is a key skill for comprehension so this is a focus for reading in Year 5.

Predict what might happen next

In Year 5, your child will continue to make predictions about the texts they read. This could mean predicting what might happen next in the story or what a character might say or do. These predictions are a good way to check understanding.

Identify how the language, structure, and presentation of a text adds to its meaning

As children reach the end of primary school, the focus on reading moves towards not just being able to read, but also to thinking about the choices a writer has made.

Your child will read a wide range of texts and will discuss how the words a writer has chosen, the way the text is organised, and how the words are presented all create a particular effect. This might be how an author makes a particular scene funny or how another author shares information clearly.

Talk about how authors use language

‘Figurative language’ describes figures of speech such as metaphors and similes, that go beyond the literal meanings of words. For example:

‘The hills were smothered in a cloak of white’ rather than ‘the hills were covered in snow’.

Figurative language might add some sparkle to a piece of writing or help the reader to think differently about an idea. In Year 5, your child will learn about figurative language and the effect it can have on a reader.

Tell the difference between fact and opinion

In Year 5, your child will read a range of types of non-fiction writing, including books, letters, adverts, newspapers, and so on. They will learn to find and use the information in non-fiction writing.

As part of this, they will learn that some information is the writer’s opinion, while other elements are facts, and they will be able to tell the difference between the two.

Talk about books, building on their own and others' ideas

Reading lessons in Year 5 will give your child the chance to talk about the books that they read. They will show their understanding and learn that different people hold different opinions about the things that they read.

Talk about what they have read in presentations and debates

As well as discussing what they read in groups and as a class, children in Year 5 will learn to present information in presentations and debates. They might be encouraged to use notes to help them.

Common reading issues

Lots of parents worry about their children’s reading. Fortunately, help is at hand!

Some children can read the words quite well – it’s just that they don’t want to. We call this group of children reluctant readersFor some other children, it is difficult to remember common words or the sounds of the letters from one day to the next. Reading is a slow and painful struggle, distressing for your child and for you. These children can be called struggling readers.

Read our expert advice on how to support your child with common reading issues:

If you are concerned about your child’s reading progress, then pop into school to talk to their teacher. Lots of people can help with reading issues, like teachers, librarians, and booksellers.

How to help at home

There are plenty of simple and effective ways you can help your child with reading in Year 5. Here are our top tips.

1. Keep reading to your child as long as possible

At this age, it is tempting to leave your child to get on with reading on their own. But hearing a story read to them is still very important for developing their comprehension. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Hearing a story read out loud means that your child can have access to books that may as yet be too challenging to read alone. These challenging texts will help to develop their comprehension skills.
  • Left to their own devices, your child might tend to pick lots of similar texts to read (for example, books from a favourite author or magazine). Reading aloud to your child gives you the opportunity to introduce them to books that they might not choose to pick up themselves, exposing them to a wider range of stories and types of text.
  • Listening to an adult read gives a model for fluent reading. It allows your child to hear how a skilled reader uses expression, bringing the words on the page to life.
  • Reading together gives your child time to discuss ideas and share opinions about what you’re reading. This is great, as it helps children to think deeply about a text and practise explaining their opinions.

2. Listen to your child read

Even though your child is likely to be an independent reader by Year 5, it’s still helpful to listen to them read. It means you can help them with unfamiliar words and talk together to make sure that they understand the book.

3. Read a wide variety of books

Encourage your child to choose texts with a variety of formats and layouts. Lots of children have favourite authors and genres, but it can be helpful to expand into new types of books every so often – and be sure not to neglect non-fiction texts, such as magazine articles, brochures, adverts, newspaper columns, signs, and notices.

Showing your child lots of kinds of texts will give them experience reading in a real-world context, and will also prepare them for national assessments where they are expected to engage with a wide variety of text types. Make sure you talk together about how the texts are presented – the writing will look different depending on what type of text it is from.

Your child may now be reading more independently, but reading to your child can still be useful, especially if the books you read are a bit above their current reading level. Take a look at our free eBook library for ideas for older readers.

Our free eBook library has lots of books perfect for older readers.

4. Join reading clubs and groups

Give your child as many opportunities as possible to share reading ideas and recommendations. This way they can share the excitement of reading – through a variety of clubs, groups, festivals, and so on. Many of these are online, such as Chatterbooks, but you can also visit your library and bookshop for information.

5. Use pictures to talk about stories

For younger children, pictures provide an excellent opportunity to practise comprehension skills. This can also be true of children as they grow older and become more confident readers

Talking about what is happening in a picture, what the characters might be thinking, or what might happen next all help to develop their reading. You might use a photo or picture on its own, or an illustration from a picture book, non-fiction book or comic strip. Many popular books for children feature illustrations as part of the story.

6. Read for a purpose

As well as reading for pleasure, your child is likely to need to read for particular purposes in Year 4. They will read to find information, to learn about something, or to answer questions. Practising this can be useful for success at school.

Your child may be asked to investigate a topic or find answers to questions set in class. You can help them with their research skills by talking about where to look to find the answers, although you may need to remind them to look in books and use the library as well as the internet. Children can struggle with information overload so they need your help to ‘search and sift’ both sites and information to make decisions.

7. Don’t give up!

In Year 5, children’s enthusiasm for reading can begin to dip. One way to keep them reading is to be a reading role model yourself. Showing them that you read – a book, magazine, or even a football website – helps them to see reading as a purposeful activity.

As your child reads read more difficult books, there might be times when they struggle and may be reluctant to continue. You can help them through those patches by reading a bit with them to get them started or hooked into the next chapter. Always balance this with sensitivity and valuing their choice – it’s got to be fun!