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Reading Grids


Reading Ladders

These reading ladders should be helpful in suggesting high quality children’s literature that increases the challenge. This is not a reading programme. The books at each stage are of a similar reading age, but the length and interest age may vary dramatically between books. It may help those working with readers to suggest 'books that are similar to…', and some knowledge of these books would be useful.

All the research that shows a positive impact coming from reading is based on reading for pleasure, so the most important thing is that pupils are reading. However, establishing a sense of perspective as to where what they are currently reading exists in the spectrum could be a powerful tool – if done carefully and with consideration. Progress in reading is not linear – a reader can be fluent reading one text and then struggle with the next, and this may be down to context rather than the ‘reading age’ of the text.

The reading age of books is always hard to establish – as is shown by the fact that ‘Lord of the Rings’ is labelled as easier than ‘Harry Potter’ by some programmes, and some series are split over many reading ages (not necessarily increasing with the series). There is also some research that indicates that some questions used in reading age tests are gender biased, which causes further hesitation about it being anything more than a guide. Children may wind their way through the genres, and much like a game of snakes and ladders, may often choose a book that technically sends them backwards on the ladders. This shouldn’t be stopped. As long as they are generally moving forwards it isn’t a problem, and is actually part of the reconciliation process of learning to read.

If a pupil is not moving forwards over the course of a year, we will need to try and establish why this is, but recognise it's our job to entice, encourage and tempt them to read new material. Any reading is better than no reading! Reading them the starting chapters may allay concerns about pronunciation, and help them build a picture of the setting before they have to focus on decoding as well. Be prepared that a student who moves genre may move down in reading age before going up – if they don’t have access to the contextual knowledge of the world/genre formats it will take a while to build up that knowledge.

Reading aloud to children is as important as them reading, and for many in the earlier stages of reading development or with reading related anxiety, this is where reading can be pleasurable – without the pressures of reading aloud, pronunciation and decoding. Read to students as often and for as long as possible – just choose increasingly challenging texts.

Hopefully these reading will help. 


Excel spreadsheet, 63 kB

Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later



These reading ladders are a starting point, and for more guidance on books try:

Books for Keeps

School Librarian


Reading Zone