How Book Band 0 Helps Your Child Learn To Read

What is Book Band 0?

Book band zero is a newer book band that helps children read without having any words.  How can you learn to read without words?  Well, not all children understand what a book is and what it means to read a story.
All books are fun - even if they don't have words!
All books are fun - even if they don't have words!

Book Band 0 is there to help children understand the story by looking at the pictures and interpreting what's happening.  It's a great time to ask your child what they think is happening in the picture.  It gets them thinking about the plot and the characters, but more importantly it helps them understand what a book is.

When they start reading, the books they read will have pictures as well as words.  These pictures actually help them read and interpret the story, and in fact as books get harder they normally have more text and less pictures  - so starting with no text and all pictures has a kind of logical sense to it!

How to use Book Band 0

Sit down with your child and take your time "reading" the Band 0 book.  Look at the cover.  Read the title to them and look at the picture.  Ask them what they think the book is about.  Do they know any of the characters already?  Ask them what they think will happen.

The First Page

Only turn to the first page when they are ready.  On the first page, ask them to look at the picture.  Give them time to look at the picture.  Then give them some more time - one of the most common mistakes parents and teachers make is not giving children time to think about what they are seeing (it will likely take them longer to digest it than you!)  Then ask them what is happening on the page.  Let them talk and when they finish ask more questions (eg What is the character doing?  Why are they doing this?  Where is another character?  How do you think they feel?)

More Pages and Questions

Repeat this for each page of the book until you get to the end.  You can also ask them different questions whilst reading:
  • Perhaps check their understanding of that they've read so far with some questions about what has happened?
  • Another great way to get them thinking is to ask - what do you think will happen next?
At the end ask them to tell you what happened.  You can also check emotional understanding - how do you think X characters felt?  How would you have felt?

Do you need to use Book Band 0?

Is Book Band zero necessary?  If you've been reading to your children since they were tiny, if you regularly talk to them about the story and ask them questions, then probably not.  If you're not sure though it can be a gentle way of introducing your children to the whole idea of a story or a book without them having to read words.

There's no harm in doing a couple of Band 0 books and seeing if they grasp the idea of the story or now before moving onto to Book Band 1.

Alternatives to Book Band 0

An alternative to Book Band 0 is actually to just read them any book before they start reading themselves.  Get them engaged in the story, make sure they understand it.  Let me say that again - make sure they understand it.  One of the biggest challenges with reading is that often children start to read the words but without comprehension (because they are concentrating on reading not understanding).  Getting them to understand what they are looking at is one of the big ideas behind Book Band 0 - so it's worth trying this if you are reading to them,

How to do this?  Look at a page of their favourite book and start with closed questions - Who is in the car?  Where is Peppa Pig?  What is Daddy Pig doing?  Then you can move to more open questions - Why did Peppa Pig make Daddy Pig run?  How do you think Daddy Pig felt?  How would you feel?  Tell me about Peppa Pig.

Once they are reading to you, you will need to ask them these sorts of questions so it's worth getting an early start!

Finally if your school or nursery insist on Book Band 0 there's no harm in it, even if you feel your child is ready to read.  It's a great opportunity to ask them what they think and what they understand - you might be surprised at how insightful they can turn out to be!


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