what-are-book-bands

How First Reading Books Are Classified By Book Bands

Ignore the red colour and "Level 1" the book bands is at the bottom  - book band 4 - blue
Ignore the red colour and "Level 1" the book bands is at the bottom - book band 4 - blue
Book bands are a standardised way of grouping books by reading level across the UK.  This means, for example, if your child is working on book band 6, you know that if you are buying books, or borrowing from the library you should be getting ones which say book band 6.

The book bands also have associated colours, so 6 is orange, but I've found that this isn't always very clear.  A book could be very Orangey in colour but be another book band (for example it could really be book band 4 - blue and have a small hardly visible patch of blue).  So it's always worth checking specifically the number.  In theory, the colour is actually the main name of the book band, not the number, but I've always found the numbers easier to understand myself.

It's also worth having a look at the content, children can be on different book bands for different types of books.  I found with my son at one point he was doing really well on fiction, but working to a different book band on fact books.  You want them to be able to read all different types, but of course don't want to demotivate them by giving them something too easy or too hard. 

Oxford Reading Tree Levels do more or less correspond with book bands, for new books.  So this book will be about book band 5.
Oxford Reading Tree Levels do more or less correspond with book bands, for new books. So this book will be about book band 5.

Although book bands are supposed to be universal, publishers self classify and sometimes do so inconsistently, so that's another reason for looking at the book and seeing if it is appropriate.  Also , if publishers use the word "level" that might not correspond to a book band - different publishers have different systems, always look for the words "book band".

If you don't know what book band your child is working on then you can ask at their school or nursery.  If that isn't possible try this technique:
  1. If they haven't done any reading before they are book band 0 or 1
  2. If they've just started reading then they will be 1 - 2 
  3. If they can read whole sentences, but only just then they are probably 3 -4
  4. Otherwise just try them on a level 5 book, if that seems too easy increase it a couple of levels, and try again, if it is too difficult go back one level.
Finally, if you're not sure about a book's book band, or you're just not sure have a look at the text inside and see if it seems similar to what your child is reading.  Are the words mostly ones you've seen your child read?  How difficult is the content / plot / characters versus what they are used to?  Or, just how do you think they will do with this book?

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