Developing Young Readers


We intend that every pupil learns to read quickly and continues to read – widely and often. We aim to foster a lifelong love of reading by exposing our children to various genres of literature across all curriculum areas. We believe reading opens up a new world for children and gives them the opportunity to explore new ideas, visit new places, meet new characters and develop a better understanding of other cultures. Building children’s vocabulary gives them the word power they need to become confident speakers. Being well read and knowing what others think, say and feel; will support their own thoughts and ideas. It will also give them something to say and contribute.


Reading is clearly therefore a key life skill and we strive to embed a culture of reading into the core of what we do. Providing opportunities for children to read both independently and aloud as well as allowing them the chance to discuss and recommend books they have read to their peers. Reading and quality literature is interwoven into our curriculum through the use of key texts to expose our children to various genres and famous authors and to enhance the variety of exciting topics that we teach.


Listening to your child read every night and reading to them is incredibly important. Spending this time with your child each day will make a significant difference to, not only their reading, but their success as a learner across the curriculum.

Children who read often and widely get better at it.

Practice makes perfect in almost everything humans do, and in reading, it is no different.

Reading exercises our brain.

Reading is a much more complex task for the human brain rather than watching TV, for example. Reading strengthens brains connections and builds NEW connections.

Reading improves concentration.

Children have to sit still and quietly so that they can focus on the story when they are reading. If the read often, they will develop the skill to do this for longer.

Reading teaches children about the world around them.

Through reading a variety of books children learn about people, places, and events outside of their own experience.

Reading improves vocabulary and language skills.

Children learn new words as they read. Subconsciously, they absorb information on how to structure sentences and how to use words and other language features effectively in their writing and speaking.

Reading develops a child’s imagination.

As we read our brains translate the descriptions we read of people, places and things into pictures. While we are engaged in a story we are also imagining how a character is feeling. Children then bring this knowledge into their writing.

Reading helps children to develop empathy.

As children develop they begin to imagine how they would feel in that situation.

Reading is fun.

A book or an e-reader doesn’t take up much space and is light to carry, so you take it anywhere. You’ll never be bored if you have a book in your bag.

Reading is a great way to spend time together.

Reading together on the sofa, bedtimes stories and visiting the library are just some ways of spending time together.

Children who read achieve better in school.

Reading promotes achievement in all subjects, not just English. Children who are good readers tend to achieve better across the curriculum.

Reading at KS1

 Phonics programme

Our pupils learn to read effectively and quickly using a systematic synthetic phonics programme called Read Write Inc.

What is Read Write Inc.?

At St Martin’s, we use the ‘Read Write Inc’ phonics programme designed by Ruth Miskin to teach early reading. The structured programme helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. At the core of the programme is the lively and vigorous teaching of synthetic phonics. Children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and how to sound-blend words for reading (decoding) at the same time as developing handwriting skills and spelling (encoding).

 We have found that by using the Read Write Inc. programme, children experience success from the very beginning of their reading journey. Lively phonic books are then closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and as children re-read stories their fluency increases. The stories include prompts to support thinking out loud and discussions, helping children develop the skills they need to be successful storytellers.

 Read Write Inc. lessons are fun and engaging and all staff who deliver the reading sessions are fully trained. The lessons are taught daily and pupils are regularly assessed and grouped to enable appropriate challenge and pace throughout the programme.

 There are five key principles that underpin the teaching and learning in all Read Write Inc. lessons: 

  1. PACE – Our children are active and involved in every session. We ensure that no time is wasted and that every minute of learning is maximised.
  2. PRAISE – Our teachers constantly praise the children for their efforts. The children are also encouraged to praise each other and as a school we have developed a number of ‘praise actions’.
  3. PURPOSE – Each activity has a clear purpose. The teacher will share the purpose of each activity with the children so that they know exactly what they will be learning.
  4. PARTICIPATION – All children are supported to be involved in each part of the lesson.
  5. PASSION – Our staff are extremely passionate about the teaching of Read Write Inc. We love teaching the sessions and watching our children become confident readers.

 How will Read Write Inc be taught?

 Reading skills are developed early. In our Nursery, children are supported to develop vital listening and speaking skills through games, songs and rhymes. Children are also introduced to our Read Write Inc mascot/friend, Fred the frog and where appropriate taught how to say initial sounds.

From the very first week in Reception, children learn phonemes (segments of sound) and the corresponding grapheme (the letter/s that represent the sound) during daily ‘speed sound’ sessions. The sounds are divided into 3 sets and have handwriting phrases to support letter formation. In reception children will learn set 1 sounds and the majority of set 2 sounds; in Years 1 and 2, children will be secure with set 2 sounds and learn new set 3 sounds. These sounds are shown below.

How to pronounce the Read Write Inc sounds.  

Set 1 Sounds

Set 2 Sounds

Set 3 Sounds

When we teach the children to write these sounds, we use fun handwriting phrases to help them remember what the sound looks like.

World Time

When children have learnt the first few sounds they are also taught to read words by blending the sounds together. This is called blending or ‘Fred Talk’. The children are introduced to our Read Write Inc mascot ‘Fred the Frog’ who can only talk in pure sounds. Fred can only say the sounds in a word and needs help from the children to read the word. Fred will say the sounds and children will work out the word. For example, Fred will say the sounds s-a-t, and children will say the word sat.

How children are taught to blend sounds.

How you can teach this at home.

Green Words

Once our children are able to sound blend, they have lots of opportunities to apply this new knowledge to reading words. ‘Green’ words are phonetically decodable words that the children learn to read. These are learnt in accordance with the sounds that they are learning at that time and support children to become fluent readers. Regular reading of these words ensures children are able to recognise/read them quickly.

Red Words

As well as ‘green words,’ children will also come across ‘red words’. These are also known as ‘tricky words’ and they are the words that children will need to learn to sight-read because they contain parts that are not decodable. They might only be red words until a specific sound is learnt.

Nonsense Words

Nonsense words (also known as Alien words) are made-up words using a combination of sounds the children have learnt. Research has shown that incorporating nonsense words into teaching reading can be an effective way to establish blending and segmenting skills. However, it is important to ensure that children understand that they are reading nonsense words (and why) so that they are not confused by trying to read the words for meaning. By reading nonsense words children develop their ability to decode individual sounds and then blend them together to read. These nonsense words feature on the Year 1 phonics screening check.

Read Write Inc Books

After children have learned enough sounds they will begin to read ‘Ditty’ books in their Read, Write Inc. lessons, as well as continuing Speedy Sounds and Word Time sessions. Ditty books contain 3 short stories that the children read and these stories are made up from green and red words.

Following Ditty books children continue to read groups of books that have been specially written to support progress through the scheme. Each colour band contains 10 main books, with extra books to support non-fiction reading as well. Children are taught to read the ‘green’ and ‘red’ words at the beginning of each book, before checking understanding using the ‘vocab check’ page. The children also talk about the upcoming story to make links to their own experiences before reading the book with their reading partner, usually 3 times. The first time is to practise decoding the words, the second time is to practise expression and the third time is to read for comprehension. Children develop their comprehension by answering ‘find it’ and ‘prove it’ questions about the text. Each book focuses on a particular sound or set of sounds, allowing the children to practise the sounds that they have been learning most recently.

Books Year Group Expectations
Red Ditty 1-10 Reception
Green 1-10 Reception
Purple 1-10 Reception
Pink 1-10 Reception/Year One
Orange 1-12 Year One
Yellow 1-10 Year One
Blue 1-10 Year One/Two
Grey 1-13 Year One/Two

We also encourage children to read books matched to their reading level at home. These books follow the same banding system as those used in school and children practise the words before bringing the book home.  Children should be able to read these relatively fluently and they are always encouraged by your support.  Please try and find some time to hear them read to you, ideally daily.  The sooner your child reads, the easier and more exciting their learning will be across the curriculum.

Reading at Key Stage Two

Once children complete the Read, Write Inc programme, the teaching of reading is whole class led.  We explore texts linked to our writing, choosing awarding winning books so that our children are exposed to quality literature that stretches their reading ability.  Therefore the books we share in class, with the teacher, are slightly above their current reading level.  Through collaboration with peers and the teacher’s guidance, reading is helped to improve further.  We use four ‘lenses’ with which to explore books and stories which improve understanding and engagement with themes in the text:

To develop their reading further, children choose texts at a comfortable level for them to enjoy at home through the Accelerated Reader Programme.

When our children are confident fluent readers they will move onto our Accelerated Reader Programme.   The general expectation is that all children will be confident and fluent readers (whom we sometimes refer to as ‘free’ readers) by the end of the Autumn term in Year Two.  However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, your child may not yet be on track.  We have additional tutoring in school as a matter of priority to make sure that all children are given the earliest opportunity to read well by themselves.

A Parent’s Guide to Accelerated Reader

What level of book is your child reading?  A Guide to Age Expectations and ZPD zones

Renaissance Accelerated Reader Overview

The Trust reading spine is a core of books that create a living library inside our children’s minds. It is a store of classics and essential reads that help our children engage at a deeper level and enter the world of the story. The spine runs from Nursery to Year 6 and we encourage all our pupils to become familiar with these books.

The Trust poetry spine is designed to ensure that each term children become familiar with at least one key poet. Ensuring that children have poetry read to them on a regular basis over the years increases their familiarity with poetry’s many possibilities.  Poetry is important to help children expand their vocabulary and mode of expression as well as become familiar with the rhythm of our spoken language.

Link to listed poems on our poetry spine per year group.

How can I support my child at home?

At St Martins, we will always keep you up to date with your child’s progress in their reading and give you information about how you can best support your child at home. Throughout the year, we hold a number of parent workshops or videos where you will be given information about the different stages of reading.  Investing time in helping your child to read will have an enormous positive impact on their learning, lives and wellbeing.

  • Practise saying and reading ‘pure’ sounds using the pronunciation guide. Avoid using the letter names or capital letters as these will be introduced later.
  • When your child is ready they will bring home a reading book that matches the level that they are working at within the Read Write Inc scheme. Listen to your child read as often as you can and use the prompts at the back of the book to support your child’s comprehension of the story.
  • Each time your child moves to a new colour band of book, they will bring home a list of ‘tricky red words’ to be practised. Encourage your child to practise reading and writing these sight words from memory to support fluency.
  • Read and read some more – Teachers read aloud to children every day to help support listening and comprehension skills and to help foster a love of reading. You can help with this by reading high quality texts to your child each day and talking about the stories you have read. You might want to start with the recommended books in the reading challenge that can be found below. Just click on your child’s year group to get started.

Useful Websites

  • Read Write Inc. – for more information and ideas for supporting your child visit the RWI website.
  • Cornwall Library Service – visit the Cornwall Library website to sign up for free to library services such as online e-book access and a click and collect borrowing service.
  • Oxford Owl – visit the Oxford Owl website which has over 100 free eBooks for to enjoy with your child.
  • Family Learning: Phonics Games – Phonics games will help your child to practise sounding out words, which will help them to read.