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Northaw CE Primary School and Nursery

Loving for Today, Learning for Tomorrow, Forever in Faith


Preparing children


You don’t need to try to teach your child to read before they start school. However, there are some things  you can do at home to prepare your child for learning to read at school.


Build on what they learn at pre-school


Your child's pre-school or nursery will have provided lots of different activities and an environment which has taught your child that words tell them something. Your child will have done things such as:


  • Listened to and discussed stories.
  • Participated in rhyming games and chants.
  • Identified labels and signs in their environment.
  • Learnt some letters of the alphabet, making letter-sound matches.
  • Used known letters to try writing.


Things you can do at home


Reading books to your child is the obvious way of helping them get off to a great start, but other things include:


  • Point out letters and words in the environment, such as signs, shop names, labels on food and packaging, etc, and read them with your child.
  • Label their toy boxes so they begin to recognise words that relate to what they play with, e.g. puzzles, cars, building blocks, etc.
  • Label things that belong to them, like their bag and shoes, with their name. This is useful for starting school as it means they can identify their peg, etc.
  • Sing songs and rhymes. This helps them hear the syllables and sounds words are made from - a vital skill for starting phonics.
  • Pin up the letters of the alphabet in their bedroom. You can buy a poster or find one online to print off.
  • Have magnetic letters on the fridge or foam letters in the bath that they can play with.
  • Let your child watch Alphablocks, a CBeebies programme with fun and friendly letters of the alphabet who work together to make words and tell stories using phonics.
  • Help them to read the cards they receive on special occasions.
  • Use different materials, like sand, paint and chalk to practise marking out letters of their name.


Playing with sounds prepares your child for reading


Helping your child to distinguish the sounds in words will stand them in good stead for learning Phonics.


  • Challenge your child to think of as many rhyming words as possible for words such as cat, black and sky. Nonsense words that rhyme are good too - e.g. dat, lat. It's the rhyming pattern that's important.
  • Make up your own rhymes, e.g. instead of 'Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick...', you could sing 'Mr Bar had a car, that was fast, fast, fast...'.
  • Read books written in rhyme, and pause before reading the final rhyming word so that your child can predict it.
  • Make up alliterative phrases (ones in which an initial sound is repeated, e.g. pretty pink pig) to describe things such as toys or food.
  • Encourage your child to make different sounds in front of a mirror, such as 'th' and 't', so they can watch how their mouth and tongue move. When you're making letter sounds for your child, try and say 'sss' rather than 's-uh', and 'mmm' rather than 'm-uh', etc.
  • When reading stories, encourage children to join in with repetitive phrases, e.g. 'I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down'.


Games are a fun way of helping your child


There are lots of games you can buy to help your child recognise letters, words and sounds, e.g. lotto. Alternatively, you can make your own:


  • Play magnetic fishing with letters or known words written on the fish. If your child can read what's on the fish, they get to keep it. You can make your own magnetic fishing game using paper fish, paperclips and magnets on string.
  • Play Pairs by writing letters or words on pieces of paper - you need two pieces with each letter or word on. Place the pieces of paper face down, then take it in turns to turn two over, read them and if they match, keep them.
  • Play I Spy using initial sounds. You can make it easier by placing a selection of objects with initial different sounds on a tray.


There are lots of reading apps you can download, e.g. Teach Your Monster to Read or Reading Eggs. These teach basic reading skills through games - just don't let your child stay on them all day.


Relax and enjoy seeing your child's reading improve...


Children develop at different rates, so don't worry if your child has no interest in letter sounds and just wants to play energetically. Even if your child is capable, don't push too hard, or they may start to dislike learning.

Reading is taught exclusively using phonics – a method of teaching people to read based on the sounds that letters represent. Building on Letters and Sounds, and having explored the list of validated SSP (Systematic Synthetic Phonics) programmes, we chose Monster Phonics, providing:


  • all that is essential to teach SSP to children in reception and key stage 1 years of mainstream primary schools
  • sufficient support for children in reception and key stage 1 to become fluent readers
  • a structured route for most children to meet or exceed the expected standard in the year one phonics screening check
  • all national curriculum expectations for word reading through decoding by the end of key stage 1.


Staff in Acorns and Apples & Pears can provide additional information and share the login with you.

The Northaw Reading Framework


Reading is fundamental to education. Proficiency in reading, writing and spoken language is vital for pupils’ success. Through these, they develop communication skills for education and for working with others: in school, in training and at work. Pupils who find it difficult to learn to read are likely to struggle across the curriculum, since English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching. This framework establishes the principles we aim to follow in reading at Northaw.

Poems, rhymes and songs for each year group


Early years foundation stage


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I caught a fish alive

Baa black sheep

Bobby Shafto’s gone to sea

Brush your teeth

Busy Farmer Ben

Clap, clap, hands, one, two, three

Dance, Thumbkin, dance

Did you ever see a bunny?


Down at the station

Dr Foster went to Gloucester

Five currant buns

Five little apples

Five little ducks went swimming one day

Froggy went a-courting

Golden Slumbers

Head, shoulders, knees and toes

Here is the beehive, where are the bees?

Here we go round the mulberry bush

Hickory Dickory dock

Horsie, horsie don’t you stop

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

I hear thunder

I’m a pirate

I’ve got a body

Incy wincy spider

It’s raining, it’s pouring

Jack and Jill

Little Tommy Tucker

London Bridge is falling down

Old King Cole

Old MacDonald had a farm

One finger, one thumb, keep moving

One tomato, two tomatoes

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross

Row, row, row your boat

Rub-a-dub dub

Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep

Ten green bottles

Ten in the bed

The bear went over the mountain

The big ship sails on the ally oh

The grand old Duke of York

The Muffin Man

This is the way we lay bricks

Three blind mice

Twinkle, twinkle little star

We’re marching in our wellingtons

When Goldilocks went to the house of the bears

When you want to make a spell

Wind the bobbin up


Key stage 1


A cat came dancing

A sailor went to sea, sea, sea

Cobbler, cobbler mend my shoe

Diddle dumpling my son John

Down in the jungle

Five little men in a flying saucer

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed

Five little monkeys swinging from a tree

Five little speckled frogs

Goosey, goosey, goosey

Hickety Pickety my red hen

I am the baker man

I can sing a rainbow

I have a furry kitten

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly

I went to visit a farm one day

If you’re happy and you know it

Little Bo Peep

Little Boy Blue come blow your horn

Little Jack Horner

Little Miss Muffet

Look at the sneaky crocodile

Mary, Mary quite contrary

Miss Molly had a dolly

Oats and beans and barley grow

Old Mother Hubbard

One big hippo

One man went to mow

One, two, buckle my shoe

Oranges and lemons

Polly put the kettle on

POP! goes the weasel


Rock a-bye, baby

See Saw Margery Daw

Sing a song of sixpence

Ten fat sausages sizzling in a pan

The animal fair

The animals went in two by two

The goats came marching

The Hokey Cokey

The magic porridge pot

The north wind doth blow

The twelve days of Christmas

The wheels on the bus

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea

This old man

We’re driving in our car

When I was young I sucked my thumb

Wiggly Woo

Yellow Bird

High-quality stories to read aloud to children, including traditional and modern stories, and non-fiction


Early years foundation stage




Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Each Peach Pear Plum

Nick Butterworth & Mick Inkpen

Jasper’s Beanstalk

Rod Campbell

Dear Zoo

Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Lynley Dodd

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

The Gruffalo

Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Room on the Broom

Mary Finch & Kate Slater

The Little Red Hen

Eric Hill

Spot’s Birthday Party

Pat Hutchins

Rosie’s Walk

Anna Llenas

The Colour Monster

Bill Martin Jr & Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram

Guess How Much I Love You

A A Milne

Winnie the Pooh

Jill Murphy

Whatever Next!

Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Michael Rosen & Kevin Waldron

Chocolate Cake

Nick Sharratt & Pippa Goodhart

You Choose

Steve Smallman & Caroline Pedler

Scaredy Bear

Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson

Owl Babies

Martin Waddell & Helen Oxenbury

Farmer Duck


NB The book corner is usually restocked from the library at half term. This list is reviewed annually.


Key stage 1




Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Ronda & David Armitage

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch

Jeff Brown & Rob Biddulph

Flat Stanley

Anthony Browne


Eileen Browne

Handa’s Surprise

Roald Dahl

Fantastic Mr Fox

Roald Dahl

George’s Marvellous Medicine

Alex Deacon


Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

The Highway Rat

Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

The Snail and the Whale

Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler


Julia Donaldson & Nick Sharratt

Wriggle and Roar!

Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet


Shirley Hughes


Oliver Jeffers

Lost and Found

Judith Kerr

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

David Litchfield

The Bear and the Piano

David McKee


David McKee

Not Now, Bernard

Jill Murphy

Peace at Last

Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are

Martin Waddell & Barbara Firth

Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?

Martin Waddell & Barbara Firth

Let’s Go Home, Little Bear


NB The book corner is usually restocked from the library at half term. This list is reviewed annually.


Lower key stage 2




Anthony Browne

Hansel and Gretel

Bill’s New Frock

Anne Fine

Lara Hawthorne


Mary Norton

The Borrowers

J K Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!

Joshua Seigal

I Don’t Like Poetry

E B White

Charlotte’s Web


NB The book corner is usually restocked from the library at half term. This list is reviewed annually.


Upper key stage 2




Frank Cottrell Boyce


Carol Ann Duffy

New and Collected Poems for Children

John Foster

The Poetry Chest

Morris Gleitzman


Anothony Horowitz


Michael Morpurgo

Private Peaceful

R J Palacio


Daniel Pennac


Onjali Q Rauf

The Boy at the Back of the Class

Louis Sachar



NB The book corner is usually restocked from the library at half term. This list is reviewed annually.

The benefits of reading aloud at home




Your child will bring home two books. One is for your child to read to you. It has been

carefully chosen so that they can work out all the words. The other book has words your

child may not be able to read yet. It is for you to read to your child and talk about together.


How to read a story to your child


If you can find the time beforehand, read the read-aloud book to yourself first, so you can

think about how you’re going to read it to your child.


On the first reading:


  • Make reading aloud feel like a treat. Make it a special quiet time and cuddle up so
  • you can both see the book.
  • Show curiosity about what you’re going to read: ‘This book looks interesting. It’s
  • about an angry child. I wonder how angry he gets…’
  • Read through the whole story the first time without stopping too much. Let the story
  • weave its own magic.
  • Read with enjoyment. If you’re not enjoying it, your child won’t.


Read favourite stories over and over again. On later readings:


  • Let your child pause, think about and comment on the pictures.
  • If you think your child did not understand something, try to explain: ‘Oh! I think what’s
  • happening here is that…’
  • Chat about the story and pictures: ‘I wonder why she did that?’; ‘Oh no, I hope she’s
  • not going to…’; ‘I wouldn’t have done that, would you?’
  • Link the stories to your own family experiences: ‘This reminds me of when …’
  • Link stories to others that your child knows: ‘Ah! Do you remember the dragon in ….?
  • Do you remember what happened to him?’
  • Encourage your child to join in with the bits they know.
  • Avoid asking questions to test what your child remembers.
  • Avoid telling children that reading stories is good for them.

10 top tips for parents to support children to read


1. Encourage your child to read


Reading helps your child’s wellbeing, develops imagination and has educational benefits too.

Just a few minutes a day can have a big impact on children of all ages.


2. Read aloud regularly


Try to read to your child every day. It’s a special time to snuggle up and enjoy a story.

Stories matter and children love re-reading them and poring over the pictures. Try adding

funny voices to bring characters to life.


3. Encourage reading choice


Give children lots of opportunities to read different things in their own time - it doesn’t just

have to be books. There’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, magazines, recipes and much

more. Try leaving interesting reading material in different places around the home and see

who picks it up.


4. Read together


Choose a favourite time to read together as a family and enjoy it. This might be everyone

reading the same book together, reading different things at the same time, or getting your

children to read to each other. This time spent reading together can be relaxing for all.


5. Create a comfortable environment


Make a calm, comfortable place for your family to relax and read independently - or together.


6. Make use of your local library


Libraries in England are able to open from 4 July, so visit them when you’re able to and

explore all sorts of reading ideas. Local libraries also offer brilliant online materials, including

audiobooks and ebooks to borrow. See Libraries Connected for more digital library services

and resources.


7. Talk about books


This is a great way to make connections, develop understanding and make reading even

more enjoyable. Start by discussing the front cover and talking about what it reveals and

suggests the book could be about. Then talk about what you’ve been reading and share

ideas. You could discuss something that happened that surprised you, or something new

that you found out. You could talk about how the book makes you feel and whether it

reminds you of anything.


8. Bring reading to life


You could try cooking a recipe you’ve read together. Would you recommend it to a friend?

Alternatively, play a game where you pretend to be the characters in a book, or discuss an

interesting article you’ve read.


9. Make reading active


Play games that involve making connections between pictures, objects and words, such as

reading about an object and finding similar things in your home. You could organise treasure

hunts related to what you’re reading. Try creating your child’s very own book by using photos

from your day and adding captions.


10. Engage your child in reading in a way that suits them


You know your child best and you’ll know the best times for your child to read. If they have

special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) then short, creative activities may be the

way to get them most interested. If English is an additional language, encourage reading in a

child’s first language, as well as in English. What matters most is that they enjoy it.

How the school will support children to keep up from the start through extra practice


Phonics lessons are of the highest quality to reduce the likelihood that children might need extra support.


Children at risk of falling behind are identified within the first three weeks of their starting in their reception year. They should continue to be assessed until they can read fluently.


These children have extra daily phonics practice with a well-trained adult.


Each child receiving extra support is profiled to identify any special educational needs or disability (if not already identified); any speech, communication and language needs; their attendance; time at the school, and previous teaching.

Recommended reads


Lower key stage 2




Peter Brown

The Wild Robot

Anthony Browne

Voices in the Park

Catherine Fisher

The Snow-Walker’s Son

Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries

The Creakers

Dick King-Smith

The Sheep-Pig

C S Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Glenda Millard & Stephen Michael King

Perry Angel’s Suitcase

Michael Morpurgo

The Puffin Keeper

Michael Morpurgo

Why the Whales Came

Linda Newbery

Cat Tales

Philippa Pearce

The Battle of Bubble and Squeak

Dave Pilkey


Philip Pullman

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter


NB This list is reviewed annually.


Upper key stage 2




Joan Aiken

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

David Almond


David Almond & Levi Pinfold

The Dam

Sophie Anderson

The House with Chicken Legs

River Boy

Tim Bowler

Jill Paton Walsh


Michelle Paver

Wolf Brother

Philip Pullman

Clockwork or All wound Up

Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

S F Said

Varjak Paw

Robin Stevens

Murder Most Unladylike

Shaun Tan

The Arrival

Thomas Taylor


J R Tolkein

The Hobbit

Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow


NB This list is reviewed annually.