Book bands & advice

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.

Find the right book band for your child!

Approximate age guide.

Oxford Reading Tree Levels & approximate corresponding book bands

Pink book band

Recommended reading age 4 - 5 years.

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 years.

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 years.

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 years.

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 years.

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 years.

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 years.

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 years.

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 years.

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 6 - 7 years.

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 6 - 7 years.

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 book band

Recommended reading age 7 - 9 years.

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

Yellow book band sample pages

Blue book band sample pages

Green book band sample pages

Orange book band sample pages

Turquoise book band sample pages

Purple book band sample pages

Lime book band sample pages

Extended book band sample pages

Further reading

Oxford Reading Tree levels and book bands

Oxford Reading Tree books have always used their own levels, but also use book bands that correspond to their levels.

Oxford Reading Tree levels correspond to the following book band colours:

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

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.

You are using a browser that is no longer supported. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/help/browsers for more information on how to get the latest browsers.