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Read with Oxford guide for parents

Read with Oxford is an exciting range of carefully levelled books to help children learn to read, and love to read.

The Read with Oxford Stages have been developed by our reading experts to help you choose which books to use at home to support your child – from their first steps in phonics all the way through to being independent readers.

Find out about our six simple Stages below. If you’re not sure which Stage is best for your child, try our simple test.

Stage 1: First steps

First steps – I am starting to use letter sounds to read simple words

Read with Oxford Stage 1 is for children who are ready to start learning to read. They will enjoy listening to stories and will be beginning to recognise letter sounds and read simple words.

Approximate age: 3–4
School: Early Years
Equivalent to: Oxford Levels 1 and 1+ | Book Bands Red, Yellow

Browse Stage 1 books >

Stage 2: Early reader

Early reader – I can use letter sounds to read simple words and short sentences

Read with Oxford Stage 2 is for children who are able to read very simple stories. They will still enjoy listening to stories while practising their own early reading skills at the same time.

Approximate age: 4–5
School: Reception/P1
Equivalent to: Oxford Levels 2 and 3 | Book Bands Red, Yellow

Browse Stage 2 books >

Stage 3: Growing reader

Growing reader – I am starting to read more words and longer sentences with less help

Read with Oxford Stage 3 is for children who are becoming more confident in their reading. They will be building on their earlier reading skills and will often use their knowledge of phonics automatically.

Approximate age: 5–6
School: Years 1 and 2/P2 and P3
Equivalent to: Oxford Levels 4 and 5 | Book Bands Blue, Green

Browse Stage 3 books >

Stage 4: Gaining confidence

Gaining confidence – I sometimes read by myself, and I can read lots of everyday words

Read with Oxford Stage 4 is for children who are beginning to read with more confidence. They are often able to use the phonics they have learned without being reminded, and they are starting to feel more comfortable reading by themselves.

Approximate age: 5–7
School: Years 1 and 2/P2 and P3
Equivalent to: Oxford Levels 6 and 7 | Book Bands Orange, Turquoise

Browse Stage 4 books >

Stage 5: Becoming independent

Becoming independent – I can read and enjoy a whole story by myself

Read with Oxford Stage 5 is for children who are reading confidently, silently and independently most of the time. They will use their phonics knowledge automatically to tackle words they don’t know and will be able to make predictions about what happens next in stories.

Approximate age: 6–8
School: Years 2 and 3/P3 and P4
Equivalent to: Oxford Levels 8 and 9 | Book Bands Purple, Gold

Browse Stage 5 books >

Stage 6: Independent reader

Independent reader – I can read and understand longer chapter books by myself

Read with Oxford Stage 6 is for children who reading confidently, silently and independently. They will have a greater understanding of what they are reading, feel comfortable tackling longer books in one sitting and will enjoy books of different genres.

Approximate age: 7–8
School: Year 3/P4
Equivalent to: Oxford Levels 10, 11 and 12 | Book Bands White, Lime, Brown

Browse Stage 6 books >

Read with Oxford Stages – practice, progression and fun

When you’re helping your child to read at home, you’ll want to be sure that you’re giving your child the right books to support the learning they’re doing at school. You need books that are at the right level of challenge, and it’s also important that the books give your child plenty of practice of the reading skills they’ve recently learned. You’ll also want to be sure that these books are fun and link with your child’s interests, so that your child associates reading with enjoyment.

The Read with Oxford Stages use the same reading skills progression as Oxford Levels – but broken down into wider bands. These wider bands mean that Read with Oxford Stages:

  • provide clear and easy-to-follow progression from one Stage to the next
  • group together reading skills that children will be learning at around the same time
  • gradually increase children’s reading stamina
  • offer opportunities for extra practice, wider reading and skills reinforcement within the same Stage
  • dovetail neatly with the Oxford Levels your child is using at school.

Stage 1
Oxford Level: 1, 1+
Book Band: Lilac, Pink
Approx. age: 3–4

Stage 2
Oxford Level: 2, 3
Book Band: Red, Yellow
Approx. age: 4–5

Stage 3
Oxford Level: 4, 5
Book Band: Blue, Green
Approx. age: 5–6

Stage 4
Oxford Level: 6, 7
Book Band: Orange, Turquoise
Approx. age: 5–7

Stage 5
Oxford Level: 8, 9
Book Band: Purple, Gold
Approx. age: 6–8

Stage 6
Oxford Level: 10, 11, 12
Book Band: White, Lime, Brown
Approx. age: 7–8

Video support

Phonics: How to pronounce pure sounds

Learn how to pronounce all 44 phonics sounds, or phonemes, used in the English language with these helpful examples from Suzy Ditchburn and her daughter.

Phonics: How to blend sounds to read words

Suzy Ditchburn explains how letter sounds can be blended to read words, and gives tips on how to practise phonics with your child.