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West Thornton Primary School


Why reading is important

At West Thornton we believe reading is a lifelong skill that underpins success across all aspects of the curriculum. We don’t just teach children to read, we create lifelong learners. Children leave our school able to discuss, with confidence, a range of books and enjoy regularly reading for pleasure. 
Through developing oracy and book talk, alongside the basic skills of decoding, children’s language acquisition effectively develops alongside their reading attainment. Through accessing carefully selected, rich texts that are both read and read aloud, our children have multiple exposures to vocabulary and second tier words. Fluency, comprehension and pleasure are the core values in our approach to developing successful readers.
Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary and material. They are able to recommend books to their peers and enjoy reading a wide range of genres, including non-fiction. Children enjoy participating in book talk, including evaluating an author’s use of language and how this can affect the reader. We ensure the books we read as part of our reading curriculum and in our books corners build on children’s cultural capital and reflect the diversity of our children’s lived experiences. 

How we teach early reading 

  • Reading is taught in tandem with phonics. After a phonics input children across Reception, Year 1 & Year 2 apply their phonics knowledge by using a fully matched decodable book. 
  • These daily sessions are 25 minutes long. 
  • There are approximately 6 children in a group and the teacher reads with one group daily. This is called 'Reading Squad'.
  • Children have extra support where appropriate with a trained adult and reading volunteers. The focus is on ‘keep up not catch up’
  • The focus from Reception is on reading strategies of decoding, blending and fluency.
  • Books selected by the teacher show cumulative progress according to the sounds the child has been taught that half term. 
  • Books are closely matched to a child’s ability. Children read books which contain sounds they have learnt so they can practise the skills of segmenting and blending. Big Cat E-books are also available for every child.
  • In reception, reading sessions start almost immediately. 
  • Children take home books matched to their ability from the same reading scheme used in class. Children are able to self-select shared books from the class libraries and can speak well about which books they choose and why.
  • Children in Year 2 and 3 are taught through the Little Wandle fluency scheme to develop their fluency in reading before they move onto Destination Reader used in KS2.
  • Children from Year 2 and above who are new to school / English and or children who need extra phonics support are given 5 sessions a week called ‘Rapid Catch Up’ which follows the Little Wandle phonics scheme we use in Reception and Year 1.

Every child at West Thornton will have...   

  • A daily lesson dedicated to the teaching of reading through strategies such as inference, making connections and retrieval.
  • Daily scaffolded book talk, modelling the application of reading strategies.
  • A close up of new vocabulary to build children’s language and schemas.
  • Access to an inviting, purposeful book corner stocked with exciting recommended reads from the CLPE.
  • Regular opportunities to read 1:1, with a teacher and a TA, who will give live feedback on progress including next steps.
  • Weekly opportunities to capture ideas in a written comprehension task from Year 2 onwards.
  • Opportunities to read a wide range of texts that build on cultural capital and compliment themes in our global curriculum. 
  • Opportunities each day to read for pleasure.
  • If needed, some children receive regular phonics interventions to keep up not catch up.
  • A book to read that is carefully matched to their ability.

Reading for pleasure at West Thornton
Every child at West Thornton will have...·        

  • Access to a global curriculum based on a core text approach, where topics are taught through high quality books with relatable themes and protagonists that excite and motivate them.
  • Dedicated time each day where an adult will read aloud to them, aimed to build on their cultural capital. 
  • Daily opportunities to engage in quality book talk.
  • An engaging, clearly labelled, tidy book corner in their learning space with a range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction texts.
  • Some children have the opportunity to participate in a book club as time dedicated to enjoy books and engage in book talk.           


  • Participation in World Book Week dress up and enrichment events such as author visits and storytelling. 
  • A book fair every year - children are timetabled in for browsing sessions. This is also a family participation event.
  • Visits to the local library.


  • Regularly reading open morning where parents will join their child in a phonics and reading modelled lesson.
  • Weekly reading mornings where parents can join their child and share a book together. 
  • Reading challenge cards & certificates to celebrate home reading.
  • A fortnightly Book Swap.

Reading at home

Developing readers will bring home levelled books (according to their stage of development) alongside a text of their choice from the book corner. Independent readers will bring home a self-selected book from their class reading corner.  

Your child should be reading at home for 15 minutes or more each day.  Your support is hugely important for developing their reading skills, confidence and understanding.  Even if your child is an independent reader, it is still important for you to read with them, listen to them and discuss the books they are reading.

Reading list 

Recommended Books 

Teachers from across the school have compiled a recommended reading list for all year groups from Reception to Year 6 so that you are aware of the fantastic books that are available in both school and in the local libraries that will enhance your child’s vocabulary and widen their experiences through the art of fantastic story telling.

How to support developing readers at home:

  • Try to listen to and read with your child regularly, 10 minutes a day is better than a longer session once a week.  It can help if a regular time is set aside so that it becomes part of a routine. 
  • Find a quiet place to share books where you can feel comfortable and relaxed learning to read needs to be a positive experience, build their confidence by praising their efforts.
  • Encourage your child to have a go at reading words, by using phonic skills to read any unfamiliar words, and by working on building up their sight vocabulary.
  • Talk about the meanings of words to help to develop your child’s understanding and use of language. 
  • Encourage your child to read a range of texts such as stories, newspapers, comics, labels, poetry, non-fiction, tickets, signs, leaflets etc.
  • Read books to your child as well; if they see you enjoying a book it will encourage and motivate them to want to learn to read.
  • Ask them questions about the text to develop their understanding. For suitable questions that support the development of reading strategies your children are taught in school, click here.

Questions to Develop Understanding:

  • Where/when does the story take place?
  • Who are the characters in the story?
  • What happens in this part of the story?
  • Tell me one/two things that the main character does in this part of the story?
  • Can you retell the story using your own words?
  • Tell me what this character was like?
  • Tell me the most interesting/ exciting/ funniest/ your favourite part of the story? Why?
  • What do you think the character feels about...? How can you tell?
  • What do you think would have happened if…?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?
  • Which part of this book did you like best/least?  Why?
  • How has the author used words/phrases to make this character funny/ sad/ clever/ frightening/ excited etc?
  • Why is … a good title for this story/book/chapter/play?
  • Do you know any more stories like this? Tell me how they are alike.
  • Do you know another story with similar characters in? Tell me how they are similar.
  • What do you think this story is trying to tell us?
  • Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Non Fiction

  • Tell me two things you found out that you didn’t know before.
  • What does this part of the text tell us about ….?
  • Which part of the text tells us about …? 
  • Why are some words in bold?
  • How does this text/ layout help the reader?
  • How does (a diagram/picture/caption) help you to understand the information on this page?

If you have any questions or would like any further support please speak to your child’s class teacher or one of our Reading or Phonics Leads: Mrs Whitehead, Ms Rodgers, Mrs Benham or Miss French.