• Rachel

'How to' guide: the reading record

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

Our reception children have been at school for well over half a term now and it's very likely that they've been carrying a reading record to and from school, along with a book that might not even have any words in. Are you feeling the pressure to write in the reading record or are you happy doing so? You'll be writing in it for a few years so here is a little information about why and how.

The reading record is to help the teacher keep a running record of the books a child has read, to evidence where they are in reading and to inform assessments that have to be made throughout the year and at the end of each key stage. It is not to check which parents are supporting their child enough at home, though it may feel like a secret spy at times!

Why have the children been bringing home books without words? These are often early Biff, Chip and Kipper stories: enjoy them while you can as you'll see them a lot over the next few years and the enjoyment WILL fade! Kipper is actually called Christopher! Who knew?

The idea behind the books with no words is to start off the routine of sharing a story at home. Let your child talk through the pictures, making up the story. Point out things that they don't notice and ask questions like, 'What do you think will happen next?' and 'What did you like about this story?'

When you've finished the book, still read a 'real' story to your child. Julia Donaldson, Mick Inkpen, Jill Murphy, Peter Bentley... there are so many brilliant authors to choose from. If you haven't got time one evening, CBeebies iPlayer has a great range of bedtime stories that you could play now and again. If you are short of books or fancy something different, it's free to borrow books from the local library but don't forget to take them back in time! The Book People have some great book collections and if you search for 'Book People voucher codes' first, there's usually a discount to be had.

Now for the reading record. Your child's teacher might have asked you to write in it but what should you write? How often? What if you get it wrong? The last question is an easy one to answer - you won't get it wrong unless you use it for something completely different, like your shopping list! All the teacher will need to see is the title of the book and a brief comment to show you know your child has read it. 'Great reading' is an easy one, but you could go into a little more detail with 'Joe read well and recognised the words' (when the books do have words) or 'Joe made up a story to go with the pictures.'

If your child reads anything that isn't the school book, you could write this in the reading record, too, especially if he or she doesn't really fancy reading the school book one evening. If children have the chance to choose their own books at school, they're more likely to want to read them: where the staff change books for them, they might come across a book they don't like the look of. If this is the case, after giving it a go and trying to encourage your child to read it, you could politely write this in the reading record and hope that the teacher won't need to insist they digest the whole book. Beware that they might do - it depends on the system in place and their flexibility of approach.

Below are some sample comments that you might write in the reading record. Comment on this post with any more you might like to use!

We loved this book!

[Child's name] enjoyed this story and told it very well.

[Name] wasn't keen on this book but read the first two pages. Please could we have a different one?

Super reading with lovely expression.

[Name] found some of the words tricky to read, especially...

Great sounding out!

I asked the questions at the end of the book and [name] was able to answer them all.

Read to Grannie.

We didn't have time to read the whole book so had a look at the pictures.

You don't have to write a lot. If you'd rather not comment, just write the title and your initials. It will seem like no time at all until your child is writing in the record him or herself! Keep reading stories to them for as long as they'll let you - this is fantastic for their comprehension as their general understanding is often further advanced than their word reading. Biff, Chip and Kipper are great but fairly limiting.

Happy reading!

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