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What are book bands?

Reading Chest has a vast selection of reading books, which are used in schools across the UK. These are carefully graded by reading levels known as book bands. This means that when you know your child’s book band, you will be able to select books from different reading schemes with confidence, knowing that they are the right level for your child.

Each book band has its own colour. These are shown below together with some sample pages to show the levels of difficulty at each band.

Pink
Red
Yellow
Blue
Green
Orange
Turquoise
Purple
Gold
White
Lime
Extended
Oxford Reading Tree bands

Oxford Reading Tree Stages & approximate corresponding book bands find out more
Pink book band - recommended reading age 4 - 5

For children just starting to read. Children are getting used to reading from left to right and matching spoken words to written words. Usually no more than 10 pages with up to 5 words on a page.

Red book band - recommended reading age 4 - 5

The second step up the ladder as children gain a little more confidence and may know some words by sight. Usually no more than 15 pages with 1 sentence per page.

Yellow book band - recommended reading age 4 - 5

Children are beginning to read more varied sentence structures and taking some note of punctuation. Usually no more than 15 pages with 1 or 2 sentences per page.

Blue book band - recommended reading age 5 - 6

Children are becoming more confident at reading longer and more varied sentences. Usually no more than 15 pages with 2 or 3 sentences per page.

Green book band - recommended reading age 5 - 6

Children are starting to read quite fluently and take note of punctuation. Usually about 20 pages with 3 or 4 sentences per page.

Orange book band - recommended reading age 5 - 6

Children are starting to read longer and more complex sentences and can understand a range of punctuation. Usually about 20 pages with 4 or 5 sentences per page.

Turquoise book band - recommended reading age 6 - 7

Children can read complex sentences fairly fluently, taking note of punctuation. They use expression and do not rely on illustrations to help them. Usually about 20 pages with 4 or 5 sentences per page.

Purple book band - recommended reading age 6 - 7

Children might read silently or quietly at quite a rapid pace, taking note of punctuation. Usually about 25 pages with 5 to 10 sentences per page.

Gold book band - recommended reading age 6 - 7

Children might read silently or quietly at quite a rapid pace, taking note of punctuation. Usually about 25 pages with 5 to 10 sentences per page.

White book band - recommended reading age 7 - 8

Books might have chapters. Children will read silently most of the time. They are interested in longer texts which they can return to easily after a break. Usually no more than 30 pages and about 10 sentences per page.

Lime book band - recommended reading age 7 - 8

Books might have chapters. Children will read silently most of the time. They are interested in longer texts which they can return to easily after a break. Usually more than 30 pages.

Extended Readers book band - recommended reading age 8 - 9

Books might have chapters. Children read silently with confidence and perseverance. A wide variety of longer, demanding texts, usually with around 30 - 50 pages.

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Further Information

Book bands in school

The book band system is designed to help schools grade their reading books. Most reading scheme books for children aged 4 to 8 years have been given a book band colour by the publisher based on the level of reading difficulty. These colours (also used by Reading Chest) usually correspond to those in your child’s school.

Ideally this means that a ‘pink’ book in the Collins Big Cat scheme is at the same reading level as a ‘pink’ book in the Project X scheme.

Reading age & book bands

As you will see from the chart above there are general guidelines about which book bands should be covered at each age group. Please remember that children learn in different ways and make progress at different times. It is possible that there may be seven year olds on book band red and five year olds on book band turquoise.

As a rough guide, children are expected to reach the highest level (lime) at seven or eight years old. Children who read above lime level are reading fairly fluently and although some books are still graded above this level, children are reading such a wide range of material that the banding becomes not so important.

Reading Chest offers books up to book band lime and also beyond (extended readers) so that we can cater for those young readers who might be called ‘free readers’ at school.


How do I know my child’s book band?

Book bands are usually shown on the back or spine of the book. If you don’t already know your child’s book band colour, please refer to the chart above. Have a look at the sample pages, or take advice from your child’s school. It is important that children read books at the correct level. For more information on this have a look at our Tips on choosing books page.

Oxford Reading Tree Stages and Book Bands

Some schools rely heavily on Oxford Reading Tree books and so parents get used to their levels (Stages). All recently published Oxford Reading Tree books also have the book band colour shown as a small thumbnail on the back of the cover.

Generally, the Oxford Reading Tree stages correspond to the book band colours, i.e. Stage 1 is pink, Stage 2 is red, Stage 3 is yellow. However there are a few exceptions to this. For example, although most of the Stage 3 books are book band yellow, there are a few which are book band blue. This occurs because some Oxford Reading Tree books were published before the book banding system was established. It is also worth noting that most Stage 1+ books are book band red and not pink.

After consultation with the publishers and our customers, Reading Chest has decided to group all Oxford Reading Tree books from each particular Stage into a single book band. This has been done by taking the best approximation between each Stage and the corresponding book band colour – as follows:

 Book Band Pink  ORT Stage 1
 Book Band Red  ORT Stage 1+ & Stage 2
 Book Band Yellow  ORT Stage 3
 Book Band Blue  ORT Stage 4
 Book Band Green  ORT Stage 5
 Book Band Orange  ORT Stage 6
 Book Band Turquoise  ORT Stage 7
 Book Band Purple  ORT Stage 8
 Book Band Gold  ORT Stage 9
 Book Band White  ORT Stage 10
 Book Band Lime  ORT Stage 11
 Book Band Extended Readers  ORT Stage 12 & 13