Reading Target Cards: Frequently Asked Questions

We realise that there will be many commonly asked questions regarding the Reading Target Cards, which we have tried to cover in the questions below:


How many Cards do I need?

In calculating the size of the packs, we have worked on the basis of a one-form entry school (ie 7 year groups of 30 = 210 children).   25 cards at each level normally provides adequate coverage.   Top-Up Packs of 25 cards of a single colour are also available to purchase, should the need arise in the future.


How do I use the cards?

The most popular way to use the cards is for the children to take a card along with their book. They keep the card whilst they remain on the particular level and change it when they move up. The cards are often used as a bookmark in the children’s Reading Diary or the book itself.


How long do they last?

We expect the cards to stay in good condition for approximately 3 years, though this could be longer if they are stored well (see below).


Where do we get the coloured stickers for books?

We recommend Librex who are able to supply all colours required in a ‘Class Pack’ (click here) or individually as required. We also use Acetate Label Covers – also available from Librex (click here) to protect the coloured stickers.   The coloured labels are inexpensive and the Reading Target Cards are designed to achieve a close colour-match to these labels


Do you have any recommendation how to store the cards?

We would recommend using a product such as one of the card-holders from Librex (click here) to give your cards a longer life.


Can I copy the cards?
No, sorry - the cards are covered by copyright. To achieve the same quality of presentation and durability within school would also be more expensive than those we offer. We are able to achieve our prices through an economy of scale.   For more legal information about the website, click here.


What about small schools?

We would advise smaller schools to either pair-up with another similar school and split the cost, or buy a full starter pack and only use a proportion of the cards, saving the remainder for a top-up reserve.


Are the cards available to members of the public?

No, sorry – they are only available for schools to purchase.


Do you have plans for updates of future editions?

We will take note of customer feedback and if necessary, we may make minor changes to future editions to improve the product.


What are book bands?

The book band system helps schools carefully grade their reading books by difficulty level.  Most commercially published reading scheme books are given a book band colour by the publisher based on the level of difficulty.   This generally covers up to NC Level 3.

What about different colours for higher levels?

The standardised book band colours start at Stage 0 Lilac and finish at Stage 10 White.   Beyond this we have created an additional 6 stages/bands catering for the higher NC Levels 4 & 5.   Some publishers have adopted a similar approach, but have used different colours (sapphire etc.)  Please email us if you need our higher level cards in alternative colours and we will discuss this with you. Thank you.


We are a school that uses benchmark colours.  Are the Reading Target Cards available in these colours?

We can make the Reading Target Cards available in these colours if we find that there is sufficient demand.  Please let us know if you would like the higher levels (sapphire etc.) in these alternative colours.

Why do schools band their books?

Book banding provides a structure to the school’s home-school reading system and helps with organisation of resources, but most importantly it helps teachers, parents and children to gauge progress.   The Reading Target Cards enhance this provision by identifying specific targets.


Doesn’t book banding just encourage children, or their parents, to treat the different stages as a competitive race?

There is sometimes pressure for children to race through each stage, usually at the expense of skills development.   Even where schools have tried to hide or disguise the progression of a system or scheme, children and parents will still work out what it is, and some parents particularly will feel anxious about their child being ‘behind’ their peers. It is vital for these parents to understand that whilst there is a general order to the development of children's reading skills and reading behaviour, this doesn't happen in a straight-line.   Children learn to read - and to be readers, at their own pace.


What about Free Readers?

Some schools use book bands to a particular point, after which time the children become ‘Free Readers.’ However, the Reading Target Cards provide an additional 6 stages beyond Band 10 White, to support readers up to NC Level 5. Therefore children would not become Free Readers.


However, there is a sense in which, children should always be Free Readers, that is to say they should not always be constrained to reading a book within their particular band (this would mean constantly reading on the threshold of success). Instead, encourage a culture where children sometimes choose other books - perhaps an occasional easier read, as we do as adults. As long as this is explained clearly to parents, there should be no problem.


Is there a way to feedback if I see something to improve?

As all teachers know, the development of children’s reading skills is not linear and this is reflected in some ‘overlapping’ of skills on the cards.   If you feel that there is an important point, which has been missed or misplaced, please let us know through the feedback page. Thanks


Shouldn’t we just be focusing on systematic synthetic phonics?

Systematic synthetic phonics currently has a high profile.  Without doubt, there have been developments and improvements in the teaching of phonics and this has been a great help to many children.   This is because synthetic phonics helps children decode text.   Reading, of course, is about so much more than this and as all teachers know, requires a whole host of other strategies, including reading-on, sight vocabulary, contextual cues, syntax and grammar.   For anyone interested in reading more about this, see Michael Rosen's informative and entertaining debate on this blog.


What about the Assessing Pupil Progress (APP) Grids?

Many schools use these to support assessment. Looking at the Reading Target Cards alongside the APP Grids, will show a general correspondence, but the Cards are not intended to be used as a summative assessment.

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