Guided reading, an essential element of Literacy Hour, involves teachers reading with children in small groups. It requires matching texts to groups of readers, a complex process in schools that use a wide range of books.
Book Bands for Guided Reading is an essential handbook. Drawing on the experience of the Reading Recovery programme, it sorts books from various schemes into 10 colour-coded bands. These are matched to the initial levels of the national curriculum, starting with "Working towards level 1" and "Progressing to level 2". More than 3,000 titles are listed by band, including texts from popular schemes such as Heinemann's Sunshine books and the Oxford Reading Tree.
In the second half of this book, every banded title is listed in alphabetical order with its appropriate band number. This section will prove invaluable to co-ordinators grading books their school already possesses.
Alongside reading schemes, each band includes a number of individual picture books. While it is encouraging to see picture books planned into Guided Reading, a wider range of titles would have been useful.
Book Bands for Guided Reading offers more than graded lists. The introduction is helpful and succinct, providing an excellent outline of the difference between guided, shared and independent reading.
Each band is introduced with an outline of the sort of reading behaviour associated with readers at that stage. There is also a list of the characteristics particular to texts in that band. Not only are such features useful in planning, they also remind us to look beyond the graded text to the development of individual readers.
* Huw Thomas is a primary teacher in Sheffield