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Reading schemes

A reading scheme is a series of books that have been carefully written to help children learn to read. Your child’s school probably has at least one reading scheme such as Oxford Reading Tree, Big Cat or Bug Club. The books will be organised into levels, or bands, or colours.

When your child is learning to read, they need to read books at the right level of challenge. If your child’s book is too hard, they will find it frustrating (and so will you) and might be put off reading. If their book is too easy, their reading won’t get any better. Your child will read a number of books at one level, band or colour before your child’s teacher will decide that they are ready to move on.


How to share your child’s reading book

It is really important to read from your child’s reading book (or another book at the right level) every day. It can seem like a struggle or a chore if your child is unenthusiastic, but try and find the time – your child’s reading skills will blossom for it.

    • Before your child starts reading, chat about the cover and title. Talk about what the book might be about.
    • As your child reads, get them to pause every now and then. Ask them questions to check that they understand the story so far.
    • Listen carefully as your child read. It is quite easy when learning to read, to only focus on the start of the word. Check that they are reading the whole of the word, including any ending such as -ing, or -ly.
    • If your child is struggling with a word, help them to break it down into individual sounds, then blend the sounds together. Breaking words down into syllables can also help. With longer or compound words, support children to identify elements of the word they might know or find easier to decode, for instance, rain/ing, kind/est, foot/ball. Cover up part of the word and encourage children to read it in smaller chunks.
    • If your child is still struggling, it’s okay to tell them the word.
    • Finally, don’t forget that praise is really motivating for children as they read.

What are Book Bands?

Book Bands are a series of colours that indicate how difficult a reading book is. Most reading schemes in the UK will show what Book Band colour a book is as well as their own reading scheme level. For example, on an Oxford Reading Tree book you will see the Oxford Level and the Book Band colour on the back of the book. The Book Bands system allows schools to put together books from different schemes.

Oxford Levels and Book Bands

Download our full table of Oxford Levels and Book Bands used at primary school. Find out which Level is best suited to your child, and how Levels 1–20 relate to Book Bands.

This information is intended as a guide only.

Take a look

The Book Band system allows schools to use different readings schemes together.

Find out more about Oxford Levels here.


Learning to read at school

Many primary schools in the UK use either Oxford Reading Tree or Read Write Inc. Phonics to teach children to read. You can find out more about both of these reading schemes by following the links below.

image of a girl reading a book for pleasure

Oxford Reading Tree

Used to teach over 30 million children around the world to read, and love to read.

Find out more

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Read Write Inc. Phonics

A rigorous step-by-step phonics programme for helping your child learn to read.

Find out more


How to help at home

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Supporting readers

Learn more about how to support your child if they are struggling with reading or reluctant to do so.

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Read with Oxford

Learn about our range of Read with Oxford books and how they can help your child on their reading journey.

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Learn more about the importance of readxing comprehension and how to support your child in this process.

Find out more

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Free eBook Library

Find a huge selection of free eBooks to encourage your child to read and support their reading journey in our library. Take a look >