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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Ready to Read webinars

In 2014, The Ready to Read series underwent a robust review to ensure its continuing effectiveness in supporting children to build a strong foundation in literacy in their early years at school. 


Curriculum Update 28, published in the Education Gazette on 8 September (volume 93, Number 16) describes the outcomes of the review in more detail.  The review webinar provided a forum for discussing these changes. In addition, The Literacy PLD providers and RT Lits session was recorded and is  available online.

Why was there a review?

Ready to Read (and the Junior Journal) need to clearly reflect and support the expected outcomes of the National Standards and the literacy learning progressions for after 1, 2, and 3 years at school. The materials need to provide appropriate challenges that will help students develop a self-extending reading processing system and to respond to and think critically about texts. Ongoing review of the series is important to ensure that series is current and that the materials provide these learning opportunities.

What are the changes at Red and at Magenta?

A significant outcome of the review has been a decision to make Magenta one level instead of  two. There has been a lot of concern about the length of time some students were spending at Magenta and Red. In some cases students were still there after a year at school. A lot of the understandings about text that students need to develop at this early stage can be developed in other ways before introducing guided reading.

In the Literacy Learning Progressions on page 10, it states that students begin reading Magenta from their first day of school but in line with the new changes, this statement is no longer accurate and now should read that students should experience instructional reading (which includes reading to students, shared reading etc) from day one but not guided reading using Magenta texts.  

In order for guided reading to be effective, students need to have developed understandings about reading and print. There are many other approaches that will help build these understandings before students start guided reading at Magenta. It is also important to note that texts from other series, labelled at Magenta, may not have the same characteristics as Ready to Read Magenta and may not support the reading outcomes described on LLP page 10.

Will the criteria for each guided reading level be made available to teachers?

Probably not, in all its detail, as there is a lot of information to include but do remember that the TSMs for every text describe the key text characteristics in relation to the corresponding national standard.

See also  Criteria for Colour Wheel levels

Does a guided reading level accuracy rate at 90-95% enable children to develop a reading processing system? Are children able to read a text largely by themselves if they encounter one in 10 words as difficult?

Yes, this has been identified by Marie Clay as the optimal level for instruction using unseen texts so there’s enough stretch and challenge but it’s not too hard.

Do we need a stronger focus on making connections with children's lives to enable them to make meaning from text, rather than reading words on the page with little meaning making?

In regard to Ready to Read this is actually a very strong focus. Drawing on prior knowledge is a vital part of developing a self extending reading processing system. Making connections to students’ own lives has always been a primary focus for Ready to Read texts both before and after the review. This is strongly reflected in the TSM for every text.

Can you please clarify teaching practice for shared reading and guided reading in the first 3 years of school?

Both approaches have the same intended outcomes, independence in reading and enjoyment in reading. In shared reading the teacher reads an enlarged text with a group of students revisiting the text several times. The teacher controls the reading of the text with the students joining in as they feel confident. After multiple readings the students are able to read the small text, ot the big book, by themselves. So they move from shared to independent.

In guided reading working with their teacher in a small group, the students read an unseen text, after the teacher has provided a rich introduction. Over the years the practice of guided reading appears to have shifted to a very high level of teacher intervention, with the teacher closely directing the lesson, having students read only one or two pages at a time, all students reading at the same time, and often in unison.

Guided reading should be the students reading the whole text mostly by themselves without constant chunking of the text by the teacher. As they read, the teacher observes and listens in to students, providing as much support as required. The aim is not just to get the student through the book but to provide maximum opportunities to problem solve and develop as readers. In order to do this readers need to be continually problem solving on increasingly difficult texts gaining control over the processes that lead to independent successful reading.

This will only work if the students

  • are ready for guided reading
  • have developed understandings about print
  • are given material at an appropriate level of challenge
  • have been given an appropriate introduction to the text

Introducing the text is clearly outlined in the TSM for the new texts.

How do you prompt for development and use of comprehension strategies during reading at higher levels if you are not stopping for discussion/chunking the text during reading?

Sometimes it will be appropriate to stop at various points during the first reading, however we are suggesting that the first reading is as uninterrupted as possible so that students get the opportunity to read it for themselves. Ultimately this is what independent readers need to be able to do. The first reading of an unseen text is the only opportunity that students get to truly apply their own reading processing system. The RtR and JJ texts are designed for multiple readings, so the second reading (straight after the first one) may be the time when you want to stop, discuss, draw out ideas and build comprehension.  

Why are the new Shared Books not levelled on the colour wheel or with a curriculum level?

The  Nov 2011 Gazette featured an excellent article about shared reading and we encourage you to go back to it for more information. Shared texts contain memorable language and literary content that is above the level that the student can initially access by themselves.  Shared texts are not linked to levels at all, allowing flexibility for teachers to choose how and when to use them. Several of the shared texts are very appropriate from the first day at school. During the first two years of school (or below Purple on the colour wheel), non-fiction or information texts are mostly introduced to students through the shared reading approach. Shared texts continue to be accompanied by small books for students to read independently after multiple readings of the big book with the teacher.

Why have some books changed levels?

One of the outcomes of the Ready to Read review was greater clarity about the text criteria and the gradient of difficulty. Some texts changed a complete colour level and these books were reprinted and sent to schools In December 2013 and September 2014. An example of the thinking behind the releveling of No, Skipper is provided in the webinar.

Is there somewhere where I can get a list of the books that have changed levels?

There was a full list sent to schools and it’s also online. The overall gradient of difficulty across the series will make sense over time as more books are published and gaps are filled.

How have the TSM changed?

TSM are no longer sent to schools in print, they are only available online.

Some key changes have been made to the 2014 TSM that reflect the ideas about guided reading, such as emphasising the need for a careful, robust introduction, and then having the students reading the texts largely by themselves. The section that used to be called “Reading the text” is now called “Monitoring the reading” and provides a lot of support about how teachers can notice and respond to what individual students are actually doing, including examples of teacher prompts. The TSM for the new texts are online now.

Are there any plans to provide the questions from the TSM in an assessment layout for teachers to use the Ready to Read texts as an assessment tool?

There are no plans as yet but it is certainly something to consider. Please note that the Ministry is currently reviewing the Ready to Read teacher support materials (TSM) in light of the 2013/14 series review.

Each of these short films is a taster of the whole webinar, and would be suitable for professional development at staff or team meetings, to promote discussion and inspire pedagogical change.

Why the new shared books are not levelled (00:54) The Ready to Read review (01:23) The new texts (01:57)

Taking a closer look at red and yellow (02:22)

The importance of introducing the text (02:38) The Guided Reading texts explained (03:20)
Shared reading (04:15) Levelling Ready to Read- The why, and the levelling process (03:53) Explaining the Instructional Series (02:04)
  Changes to the Teacher Support Material (00:48)   Changes to Magenta (02:54)   A closer look at shared reading and guided reading in the first 3 years at school (03:47)
  Changes in text level (02:26)    

Further reading to support the webinars

Previous communications about the Ready to Read review

Ready to Read turns 50 (February 2014) 

Curriculum Update 28 (8 September 2014) 

Ready to Read Update August 2014 (PDF 2MB)

Updated on: 16 Apr 2018