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Reading at Combs



Here at Combs Infant School we are committed to helping our whole school community develop enthusiasm for reading.

“Books enable children to discover new worlds, meet new people and learn about the past, but they also have the power to transform lives. By sparking growing imaginations, stimulating critical thinking and helping to develop empathy, reading gives children the very skills they need to succeed at school, at work and in life.”

Cressida Cowell, author of How to Train Your Dragon


Reading is a skill that most of us take for granted, yet is one that is essential for being able to get on in life. As a child grows up, being able to read well not only enables them to discover new facts and to learn at school, but also opens them up to a world of new ideas, stories and opportunities. As research shows, children who read for pleasure will achieve more than those that don’t, in later life.
All our staff are committed to ensuring that all children become independent and fluent readers during their time at our school. We want our children to enjoy books as much as we do!

Research shows that reading for pleasure can be directly linked to children’s success throughout their time at school and even into adulthood. 

At Combs Infant School we are passionate about books and this love of reading is shared with our children. As you walk around our school, you are instantly struck by engaging reading displays and inviting book corners. Our libraries and our annual investment in new and exciting books demonstrates our commitment to reading and developing a culture of reading for pleasure. We also have staff reading displays that show the children the books each member of staff is reading which helps to promote and model the good reading behaviours we wish to instil in our children.


We value the importance of ensuring that our children are exposed to a wealth of books.  Therefore, we have carefully selected books that represent different abilities, cultures, beliefs, appropriate age content as well as offering challenge to readers in all year groups in both poetry, fiction and non-fiction alike. Offering a diverse reading curriculum ensures that we are supporting all our children in finding titles that they can read and connect with on some level while affirming their own cultural identities and hopefully developing important, positive insights about others.

Progression of reading through the school

Our love of reading begins from the very first day a child begins at our school; part of their introductory pack, our children receive a book from us to welcome them to our school and begin their reading experience. 


The children in our Early Years class listen to a high number of stories every day. From after register and throughout the morning to after their dinner and before they go home. As we read to the children we point to the pictures, and say the names of the various objects. We draw their attention to pictures and associating the words with both pictures and the real-world objects, ensuring each child learns the importance of language.


Learning to read is about listening and understanding as well as working out what’s printed on the page. Through hearing stories, the children are exposed to a wide range of words. This helps them build their own vocabulary and improve their understanding when they listen, which is vital as they start to read. It’s important for them to understand how stories work too. Even if a child doesn’t understand every word, they’ll hear new sounds, words and phrases which they can then try out, copying what they have heard.

Our structured approach to reading is carefully designed to ensure the best results for our children.

Whilst in nursery, children are introduced to the first stage in their phonics learning, ‘First Class Phonics’, Phase 1 Phonics. Phase 1 First Class Phonics concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for our Read Write Inc. SSP phonics programme which starts on Phase 2. Phase 1 phonics helps prepare the nursery children for learning their alphabet sounds to learn to read later on. Phase 1 is all about listening to different types of sounds and learning to tell the difference between them.


When our children are in the summer term of their nursery year before starting in reception in September, they are introduced to Phase 2 Phonics, which is taught following Read Write Inc, a structured and systematic approach to teaching literacy.


As the children move through the infants, phonics remains a high priority and is taught daily. Daily guided reading sessions in phonics, focus on higher order reading skills and the development of vocabulary. Children work through our fully decodable reading scheme and read frequently with an adult in school.

As their reading progresses and the children complete  Read Write Inc, they then move on to the Big Cat Collins reading scheme. This focuses on developing the children’s vocabulary, fluency, spelling and comprehension skills through structured thorough group sessions. Activities are carefully planned to ensure that reading stamina also develops as children progress through the school.




Assessing the children’s reading


Children’s reading progress is regularly assessed as they progress through school. They are assessed regularly through the schemes, and through teacher assessment. As the children join Key Stage 1, their reading skills are tested using both NFER and Burt reading tests. As we are a small school, we are lucky enough that staff can communicate about children’s progress on a regular basis, if any gaps or concerns are identified regarding a child’s reading progress, this is acted upon quickly with the appropriate intervention put in place.

What we do to help celebrate the joy of reading


Our curriculum is designed to provide our children with a vast range of rich experiences that expose them to the wider world through books.

At Combs we take every opportunity for the children to read. Teachers read to the children daily, the children access their reading books every day, each subject or area of learning that the children experience are linked to high quality texts and the children’s environment is thriving with a plethora of books to read.
The children have the opportunity to attend a weekly book club and every week, both classes join together to provide the opportunity for the children to paired read with other children that are no in their class. Throughout the year both classes focus on different authors, this enables the children to learn more about specific authors and their stories that they have written.




We work hard to ensure this joy of reading extends beyond the classroom and support, promote and value the contributions that parents and carers make to their child’s reading at home. Children receive acknowledgment and rewards for reading at home and we celebrate these in our Reading Assemblies.
Alongside reading awards, twice half termly children who have worked hard in their reading and tried their best are chosen and receive an invitation to have a hot chocolate and a biscuit with the headteacher.

Parents are invited in school once a week to sit and read with their children in their classroom


The children enjoy visiting our school libraries weekly to choose books that they can take home to share with their parents and a major highlight of our year is World Book Day, which we celebrate in style! The children receive a World Book voucher each to put towards purchasing a book from their local book shop.


 Children who read often and widely get better at it.

 After all, practice makes perfect in almost everything humans do, and reading in no different.


Reading exercises our brain.

Reading is a much more complex task for the human brain rather than watching television, for example. Reading strengthens brains connections and builds NEW connections.


Reading improves concentration.

Children have to sit still and quietly so that they can focus on the story when they are reading. If they read often, they will develop the skill to do this for longer.


Reading teaches children about the world around them.

Through reading a variety of books children learn about people, places, and events outside of their own experience.


Reading improves vocabulary and language skills.

Children learn new words as they read. Subconsciously, they absorb information on how to structure sentences and how to use words and other language features effectively in their writing and speaking.


Reading develops a child's imagination.

 As we read our brains translate the descriptions we read of people, places and things into pictures. While we are engaged in a story we are also imagining how a character is feeling. Young children then bring this knowledge into their everyday play.


Reading helps children to develop empathy.

As children develop they begin to imagine how they would feel in that situation.


Reading is a fun.

A book or an e-reader doesn't take up much space and is light to carry, so you take it anywhere so you can never be bored if you have a book in your bag.


Reading is a great way to spend time together.

Reading together on the sofa, bedtimes stories and visiting the library are just some ways of spending time together.


Children who read achieve better in school.

Reading promotes achievement in all subjects, not just English. Children who are good readers tend to achieve better across the curriculum. 

Top tips to establish the habit of reading and reading for pleasure:


• The key is finding ‘The Right Book’ - Every time your child reads something boring, too challenging or too easy, they will be put off. By contrast, a single book can transform the experience of reading for a child. If it is a book that they enjoy so much that they can’t put it down, it can open the door to a whole series, or genre, allowing the reading habit to be established. Finding that right book takes time. It may involve going to a specialist bookshop, speaking to the class teacher, or your child’s peers, reading online reviews etc.

• Reading does not always have to involve a book - Reading should be an integral part of everyday life. It may be newspapers, magazines, comics, instructions to a game, road signs, a TV guide or the back of a cereal packet. Just ensure that they have access to a full range of genres and if possible equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction.

• Parents act as a role model for their children - Make sure they see you reading regularly. Make a ‘family reading time’ at the weekend where everyone sits together and reads their own thing. Offer to read your favourite book to a class when invited into school Children need to see that reading is an enjoyable and worthwhile thing to do.

• Read aloud to your children - Even if they are confident, independent readers, nearly everyone enjoys being read to. With older children it gives you an opportunity to discuss what they are reading and ensure that their comprehension is solid.

• Make time for reading - Don’t overload your children with too many activities. By the time they have been to after-school clubs, had dinner, a bath, music practice, completed their homework, a bit of down time etc. they fall into bed exhausted and have very little time to read. 10 minutes a night doesn’t really allow you to ‘get into’ a book. Longer periods of uninterrupted time such as weekends or school holidays are a more productive time for reading.

• Praise/feedback - Get into the habit of telling children what they have done right instead of what they have done wrong e.g. “I liked the way you used expression” or “You worked out that difficult word all by yourself”. This is far more motivating. Don’t correct every mistake. When children are corrected too much, they are scared to try for themselves and become frustrated or lacking in confidence.

• Introduce the book - Books must be introduced, presented, talked about and savoured together. Do some research, look at reviews, websites with book suggestions and explain why you think it will appeal to the child.

• Reviews - For children hooked on books, encourage them to exchange ideas on what they thought about a book, reflect, and be critical. Encourage them to bring a book from home and share it with the class with a written book review. Suggest that they write a letter to their favourite author. Many authors have their own websites or forums to write book reviews. Respect your child’s opinions and tastes without banning certain books that they will just cling to more fiercely.

• Take turns reading - This gives children a break and an example to emulate. Break up the character parts so you can take turns to read. You read one page and they read one. Read for a few minutes until you get to a very exciting bit and then ask them to continue and tell you what happens next.

• Comprehension - Talk about what you read together and what they read independently. How the child thinks a character is feeling, what they would do in that situation, what is going to happen next, retell the sequence of events and work on inference.


We greatly appreciate all the support you give in helping and encouraging your children to read at home. For more advice follow the Book Trust link below for ideas about how to foster a love of reading in all of your children - from babies to teens!