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Help and FAQs

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Reading guidance FAQs

Who is Reading Chest for?

Reading Chest is designed for children who are learning to read, usually between the ages of 4 and 9. We provide easy access for parents to a wide range of carefully levelled reading books which are used in schools across the UK. It is perfect for both speedy readers who race through their school books and reluctant readers who might need inspiring. Reading Chest is also an invaluable service for home school educators who do not have access to any school book lending system.

I’m not sure what book band (reading level) my child is on. What can I do?

If your teacher cannot help you with this and it is not clear from your child’s school reading books, then look at our sample pages to see the level of difficulty at each book band level. For more help, have a look at ‘What are book bands?’ and ‘Tips on choosing your books’ in our reading advice pages. Don’t worry too much because once you sign up and start receiving books, it is easy to change your book selection and reading level.

My child is not at school yet and can’t read at all. Should he learn to read before he starts school?

Some children are ready to learn to read before starting school and some are not.  Because there is such a huge range of ability in the first few years of school and pre-school, partly due to the age difference between the oldest and the youngest in a class, as well as a myriad of other reasons, there is no consensus as to what is best to do. Reading Chest is not aimed at pre-school children but it may be appropriate for you and your child.

My child is really struggling and hates reading. I want to do more, but is there any point subscribing to Reading Chest?

Reading Chest could be the opportunity to turn your child around. Whether your child hates it or not, they need to learn to read at some point. Reading Chest will make the journey of learning to read as enjoyable as possible by supplying inspiring reads and extra incentives such as stickers and reward certificates. We want to support you and your child on this journey. Check out our Reading advice for more ideas.

How far do Reading Chest books go?

Reading Chest stocks books, expertly levelled up to a reading age of about 9. The reading levels cover all the nationally recognised book band colours from pink to lime with an additional band of books at the top level, which Reading Chest calls ‘extended readers’. In the book banding colour system, children are expected to reach lime reading level between the ages of 7- 8. The ‘extended readers’ section offers books suitable for a reading age of 8 to 9. Don’t get too worried about these age guidelines, as it is quite common for a 6 year old to have a reading age of 9 and for a 9 year old to have a reading age of 6. They will all level out in the end!

How will I know if my child should move up a book band (reading level)?

This decision could be made after talking to your child’s teacher. If your child moves up a reading level at school, this is a good indicator. However, it might be that your school uses a different levelling system. It is important for your child to read the right level of reading book: if books are too easy, children will not be challenged and not make as much progress; if books are too difficult, children will lose understanding of the story and not gain as much pleasure from reading. Children should be getting no more than 1 in 10 words wrong on average. If you change book band levels and think it is the wrong decision, don’t worry as you can easily switch back again.

I know what Oxford Reading Tree level my child is on but don’t know how this compares to 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 follow the book band colours, however there are a few exceptions to this, e.g. although most of the stage 4 books are book band blue, there are a few which are book band yellow. 

To ease progression through the stages - Reading Chest has grouped all Oxford Reading Tree books within a particular stage into a single book band..

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

Pink – Stage 1
Red – Stage 1+ & Stage 2
Yellow – Stage 3
Blue – Stage 4
Green – Stage 5
Orange – Stage 6
Turquoise – Stage 7
Purple – Stage 8
Gold – Stage 9
White – Stage 10
Lime – Stage 11

Extended - Stage 12 & Stage 13

General guidance FAQs

What happens if I lose or damage a book?

Whilst we hope that everyone takes good care of our books, accidents do happen. Please let Reading Chest know by either sending an email to or call our Customer Services number 01252 705100. We will have to charge you £4 to cover the replacement of the book.

What happens if the books get lost in the post?

Your books should usually arrive the day after being sent. If your books have still not arrived 4 working days later, please let Reading Chest know by either sending an email to or calling us on 0844 3356941. Reading Chest will take responsibility for books which are lost in the post and issue some more.

How many books can I post at a time?

You can post up to 3 books at a time in an envelope. This is called a swap. If you only return 1 or 2 books at a time, you won’t be making the most of your allocated number of swaps allowed in a month. (Bronze package – 2 swaps, Silver package – 4 swaps, Gold package – unlimited.) If you post more than 3 books, then Reading Chest would have to send your new books back to you in 2 envelopes and so this would count as 2 swaps instead of 1.

Can I choose the books I want?

Reading Chest allows you to make preferences, rather than choose an individual title. After you have selected your book band (reading level), you can narrow down your choices further by choosing fiction or non-fiction and also your particular favourite reading scheme(s). Please note however, if you narrow your choices too much and do not have at least 12 books in your book list, then Reading Chest may have to make substitutions on your behalf.

How can I make sure that my child doesn’t get the same books that he has read at school?

If you know what reading schemes are used in your school and you can simply exclude these schemes from your book selections.

Can I change my book rental subscription package?

Yes, you can do this any time in ‘My Account’. If you want to upgrade your package, your extra swap allowances and books will be processed straight away.

I have got two children learning to read. What is the best book rental subscription package for me?

You could subscribe to either the silver or gold packages and make multiple book lists so that each child can get books at their own reading level and make their own book choices. Please note that both children’s names will be on the envelope of books arriving in the post (e.g. Alfie & Ella Brown). If you think this is likely to cause a riot in your house, then you could open two separate accounts so that each child has their own list and receives their own personalised post.

I have 2 children who need reading books at different levels. Where do I put the different details for each child?

During the 'sign up' process, you will be asked to complete details on 1 child only (name, address, reading level and types of reading schemes etc).  After you have completed the sign up process, you then need to go into the 'My Account' area and click on 'Add a new child's name / list'. 

 If you are a silver member you can add 1 extra child. If you are a gold member you can add 2 extra children. 

I have signed up to the Silver Package and have 2 children reading at different levels. One of my children gets could do with more books than the other. Is this possible?

Yes.  In your initial delivery of books, you will be sent an even split of books betwen your children. So, if you are on Silver Package with 2 children - Emma and Harry - they will both be sent 2 books each to begin with.  It is then up to you who gets the most books.  You can post up to 3 books back at a time, so if you posted 2 of Harry's and 1 of Emma's, then you would be sent 2 new books for Harry and 1 for Emma.

Why did you send me a non-fiction book when I chose fiction?

This probably means that you have received a substitution. The most likely reason for this is that your book list is not big enough. Reading Chest asks that you keep your book list updated so that there are at least 12 books in the available pool for Reading Chest to select your books from. You can update your book selection list in the My account area.

How do I cancel my subscription?

It’s easy! Within the ‘My Account’ section of the website you can cancel your subscription at any time. Your cancellation will be effective once all your books have been returned. Please note that you will have to return all your books by your next billing date otherwise we might have to charge you for the next month’s service.

Find the right book band for your child!

Pink band: Age 4 - 5
Red band: Age 4 - 5
Yellow band: Age 4 - 5
Blue band: Age 5 - 6
Green band: Age 5 - 6
Orange band: Age 5 - 6
Turquoise band: Age 6 - 7
Purple band: Age 6 - 7
Gold band: Age 6 - 7
White band: Age 7 - 8
Lime band: Age 7 - 8
Extended band: Age 8 - 9
tips on choosing books

helping children learn to read

synthetic phonics