Why Read the Classics to your children?

Reading the classics to your child will give them access to words that people don’t use in everyday speech anymore. This will expose them to a wide range of vocabulary and grammar. The writing from the 1800s is more detailed and will strengthen your child’s reading comprehension. As children progress through KS2 they should be reading longer and more descriptive passages, otherwise they will find it much harder to understand what they read and hear in school. Therefore, reading the classics will help build up their reading ability.


Where should I start?

Start reading the classics with your child from the Early Years or when they are able to sit and listen to a story. As they get older you might want to introduce stories that are well known or that have a movie version such as Peter Pan, The jungle Book, Charlotte's Web, The Wind in the Willows, Pinocchio and Swiss Family Robinson. However, read the book first and then watch the movie after; this can be used as a reward. Remember each child is different so you will be able to get a feel for the books that interest them and those that do not through reading to them. Our reading lists start from KS2 but if you are looking for classical literature for EYFS and KS1 try the Classic Starts series as these still have more pictures in the them and the text is larger and easier to understand. For slightly older children, consider the Puffin Classics or the Sterling Classics.

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Year 3

You may notice that your child is becoming more fluent with their reading and beginning to tackle chapter books, as well as developing their own reading interests and opinions. They will be learning how to understand what has been read and will also be thinking about how and why writers write.


Children in Year 3 will usually be on 'Lime' or 'Brown' band books. The books that we have suggested are called living books and are not part of a reading scheme. Therefore, your child may find them more challenging to read and understand. If your child struggles to read the classical literature suggested by us, then don’t give up but read the book to them instead. Ask lots of questions, talk about the vocabulary on the page and summarise each chapter. If you are encouraging reading; take turns to read a page, you read one page and they read the other. Have fun with reading!


Year 4

You my notice that your child is able to interpret more sophisticated word-play and puns. In year 4 they should be learning how to explain a character’s motivations, discuss the points of view of the character and the narrator as well as better understand a range of narration styles.


Children in year 4 are usually reading at 'Grey' level but some may still be on 'Lime' or 'Brown'.
The books that we have suggested are called 'living books' and are not part of a reading scheme. Therefore, your child may find them more challenging to read and understand. Continue to make time available for regular quiet reading sessions. Try to stablish an expectation of a conversation at the end of each reading session. Check if they are able to skim and scan or go back to the book to find answers. Also keep a notebook handy so that they cn jot down new words. 


Year 5

You my notice that your child is starting to read more challenging books.  They may be reading ''blue' band books by now. This level is more advanced than the year 3 and 4 levels, so it is important that they are fully alert and willing to learn.


Children in year 5 will be able to gather information from more than one place in the text and use inference skills based on what is shown rather than being told. This allows for greater complexity in building character and setting.


Continue with regular quiet reading sessions together with you child and continue to encourage them to pay attention to nw words that they come across.

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Year 6

You may notice that you child is able to connect information from different places in a text. They are beginning to understand how layers of meaning allow for the accumulation of humour or tension and can discuss how the author has achieved the effects. Your child will start reading ‘red’ band books, which is more advanced than many primary school books. Although your child should enjoy them, the books need the reader to be fully alert and willing to learn. Classical Literature really help accelerate this further.


Whilst your child reads, ask lots of questions; even if you do not know the story, as your questions will help them find the answers and explain the book to you which will help them understand it.