English : Reading

‘I do believe something magical can happen when you read a book.’   J.K Rowling


At HCJS, we believe that reading is the skill that underpins access to all areas of the curriculum.  Pupils who can read are overwhelmingly more likely to succeed at school and we believe everything starts with reading. Reading is a lifelong skill and every child should be given the opportunity to become a lover of books and reading.

At the heart of our reading strategy and approach is to promote a love for reading and books. We endeavour to give all our children the opportunity to access a variety of thought provoking and engaging texts within our libraries, colour banded reading books, classroom libraries, class readers and guided reading texts. Giving the children access to such books we believe will open the door to retrieving and enjoying the whole curriculum. 

We strive to ensure that the children of HCJS leave us having acquired full reading fluency. In addition, we aim for them to have acquired a love for reading and books and an awareness of the pleasure that books and reading can bring. We have continued high expectations across our junior school in the promotion of reading for pleasure as well as understanding reading as an essential life skill. Therefore, our teachers are committed to the teaching of reading with enthusiasm and passion.


At HCJS we use the Jane Considine, ‘Hooked on Books’ approach in guided reading. This follows a 2 week rolling structure. Over 2 weeks, each class will teach 5 half hour Book Talk lessons lasting 30 minutes each. The 30 minute lesson is then divided into three 10 minute chunks. Within these 10 minutes, children will read in their levelled group for approximately 6 minutes and then discuss their reading for approximately 4 minutes. Throughout the half hour guided reading lesson, children will use the Reading Rainbow to discover and discuss the many ‘Reasons to Read’ based on the reading lenses within the rainbow.

Each class teacher will have thought carefully about the children’s reading level. With this in mind, the children are placed into differentiated groups accordingly. They will then be given a group book to read in these sessions.

Using this approach, we have found that all children, regardless of reading level, are not only given the opportunity to discuss what they are reading and focus on vocabulary, understanding, and prediction but they also have time to fully grasp what they are reading and find enjoyment in the variety of levelled books we can offer.

On entry into Year 3, children who have not met the required standard for phonics or those that have been identified as needing further support will receive phonics catch-up using Read, Write Inc. Where felt necessary, children will also be screened and tested for dyslexia. If the risk of dyslexia is found to be high, children will then access the Nessy Reading and Spelling program three times a week to support their learning.  

Here at HCJS, we believe that regular and consistent reading both at school and home is a vital tool in developing reading skills.  Once the children have been given a reading age from the Hertfordshire reading age test, they will have an individual reading book suited to their ability. We take care to level our reading books through the Oxford Reading Tree levels and all teachers and staff are familiar with this when matching a child to their individual reading book. We also ensure that the book will challenge to encourage development, as well as be a book the child can freely read and enjoy.

A Reading Diary is taken home to provide a strong link between school and families. This shows parents and carers what level books their children are currently reading as well as acting as a tool for commenting on the books and praising the child as they read. Book choice is monitored by staff and children are encouraged to choose a wide range of titles and authors to broaden their experience.  

Evidence now shows the crucial importance and benefits of reading aloud to children. At HCJS, this is something we believe to be a valuable tool to a child’s learning. Each year group has carefully chosen a selection of class readers that will be shared with the children throughout the year during class ‘Story Time’. This is an opportunity for the children to relax and simply enjoy a story read to them by their teacher. Without realising it, all children will not only get the chance for a moment of escapism, but they will also gain insight into the ‘reader’s brain’. They will watch and listen as the teacher enjoys the class book together with the children and also, at times, question and discuss what they may be reading. 



The impact of the reading emphasis and teaching at HCJS will be:

  • Children moving to secondary school with confident reading skills to tackle the KS3 curriculum

  • High levels of comprehension and vocabulary development

  • High levels of engagement in the books children read

  • The ability to read across a range of subjects

  • A fostering and love of reading for pleasure 



Over the four years they are with us, our children are given every opportunity to participate in a wide range of learning experiences beyond their classroom.  These experiences include a variety of activities that we aim to enrich their ability and love for reading. The children will partake in educational visits and experience outside visitors coming into school for themed days. They will also be given the opportunity to read with older children in the school during our ‘Buddy Reading’ sessions as well as visit the village library at least once a year.   We have two extensively stocked school libraries and also beautiful areas around the school for children to have quiet reading time. We have been lucky enough to link with Chiltern Bookshops to give us the opportunity to have school book fairs as well as have award-winning authors visit to meet and talk to the children. We have found this to thoroughly inspire and excite the children together with building on their knowledge and love of a variety of literature.