High levels of literacy have a significant role to play in boys’ educational success.

Research has shown that reading for pleasure outweighs every social advantage, including parental income, in the future success of the child. (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study – PIRLS, 2011)

Standards of literacy underpin wider academic attainment. Literacy supports progress in all subjects.

This is why we have a carefully designed programme outlined below to develop boys’ literacy at all stages of their education.

We work to maximise each boys’ literacy to produce boys and young men who:

  • Have high levels of literacy that allow them to maximise their wider intellectual and academic abilities to do well in all subjects
  • Read for pleasure and enjoyment across a range of texts
  • An appreciation of the use and power of language in all its forms

We hope that the following information will help support and guide your son on his reading journey at Newcastle School for Boys from 3 to18.



Looking at books

Boys who come to school knowing about books and stories, and who regard books as a source of enjoyment, excitement and information, will already understand the purpose of reading. Through enjoying books, boys learn the fundamental facts about reading. They learn that words convey meaning, that sentences are made up of several words and that there is a vital link between the spoken word and black squiggles on paper.

Sharing stories with our friends

‘Story time’ forms an important part of our Early Years’ curriculum. Stories promote language development and listening skills. They also develop and enrich boys’ desire to read. Through stories – fact and fiction – we can introduce ideas and topics. Thinking about stories and encouraging reflection and questions, helps boys gain a better understanding of language. Discussing a shared story helps a boy to distinguish between the imaginary world of story, and the real world. Bed-time stories are a wonderful way to share and enjoy a book with your son, discussing what is happening in the pictures and spotting words that he may know.

Playing with words

We introduce letters, words and sentences to explain the nature of writing. The ‘large sentence making approach’ lends itself to explaining these terms, and allows boys to handle words and make sense of print.

At this stage, boys begin making their own reading books by cutting and sticking words and pictures. Through the stages mentioned, your son will have learned to:

  1. Think about what he wants to say
  2. Express thoughts in a precise form
  3. Transfer the above into a sentence using the available words.

These processes develop the skills boys need for reading and writing and encourage confidence in the handling of words. To keep you involved with what he is doing at School, your son will bring his words home in order that you can support and share his learning.

Learning about letters and sounds

Our boys are taught letters and sounds using a multi-sensory approach, based on games, activities and most of all fun! The letters are taught in a specific order and they begin to blend sounds to form simple two and three letter words. They are also taught to segment words.

The boys begin to recognise pairs of letters that form single sounds such as ‘sh’, and, by the end of Reception, most boys can build and spell a wide variety of words using their emerging phonic skills. 


INFANTS (Years 1 and 2)

Throughout their time at school, the help you give your son with reading is very important. The more opportunities he has to enjoy reading at home the better. Little and often usually works best, so we would ask that you hear your child read or share a book with them every day.

  • Choose a quiet time away from distractions like the television or  computer games.
  • Sit with your son and make it an enjoyable experience. If your son is obviously tired, then it is better to choose another time.
  • Give lots of praise and encouragement to boost your son’s confidence.
  • If your son mispronounces or misses some words, try not to interrupt too quickly. Give him a chance to self-correct.
  • Talking about and being able to understand what has been read is just as important as reading the words accurately.
  • Read anywhere - make the most of any times your child has to sit and wait and bring a book with you.

        If your child can’t read a particular word, you could:

  • Help them with the initial sound.
  • Help them to blend the sounds together.
  • Let them work out the word from the context.
  • Read the word for them, especially if it is a character’s name or unusual vocabulary.
  1. Pause first, to give them time to work it out.
  2. Prompt as suggested above and then…
  3. Praise them for trying even if they don’t quite get it right.

Which books can my child choose?

We use both reading scheme and ‘real’ books which are organised into colour bands. Class teachers will advise in reading records on the appropriate level of reading for your son. 


JUNIORS (Years 3 to 6)

There are many ways to help encourage junior aged boys to keep reading with passion and interest. Through the junior years you will see your son develop as a reader but also see him develop preferences, tastes and opinions. This can be a critical time in developing a lifelong love of reading and the following will help.

  • Keep giving your son opportunities by visiting libraries, book shops, using e-readers, subscribing to a football magazine or comic and encouraging family members to give books as gifts at Christmas, birthdays and as rewards.
  • Respect your son’s reading choices. He may read books which you think are silly, poorly written or in dubious taste. Try and ignore these feelings and trust his judgement. He will turn to more “worthy” books as he matures but if you force him too soon, then he might be put off the reading experience.
  • Keep listening to him read as he goes through the Junior School. By the time he is in Year 6, he might not want mum or dad reading to him in bed but there are other opportunities in the day. Reading the sports pages with mum or dad at home is perfect family time.
  • Let him see you read and hear you discussing books that you have enjoyed. Take books seriously and encourage a family culture that puts as much value on reading as you do watching television, seeing films, going to restaurants or playing sport at the weekend.
  • Use films and movies as a motivation to read widely. Graphic novels are not cheating and are well paced, lively and exciting. They have the same visceral feel as a movie. Many junior boys crave intense visual experiences as they are entertaining and exciting. They can be a great way in to reading. 


SENIOR SCHOOL (Years 7 to 13)

The gift of reading enables us to become better communicators and listeners and to engage with the wider world more fully. Boys who read for pleasure perform better across the curriculum. Their language and comprehension skills are stronger because they are used to seeing words in a variety of contexts.

Within the English subject area, we encourage reading for pleasure by having a weekly library visit in Years 7 to 9 during which the boys bring a book they are currently reading at home.

According to the age of your son you can help promote reading at home in a number of ways:

  • Share reading. Most, if not all, of our boys enjoy reading with an adult. Listen to your son read, or take turns reading.  Talk about books with your son and read the books he recommends to you.
  • Have fun. Turn reading into play by hunting for key words or having one reader read the dialogue in a story while the other reads the narration.
  • Allocate time for reading. Build a set time into your routine, free of distractions, for your son to sit down and read.
  • Encourage your son to read around a topic of interest. Boys develop language through subject-specific reading.
  • Model reading. Boys are more likely to read if they see a male role model reading.
  • Download E-readers are a popular and effective way of exposing reluctant readers to a variety of subject matter. Many classic tales that appeal to boys such as Sherlock Holmes and the stories of HG Wells are available for free online. 


We hope that the following list of recommended reads is helpful in supporting your son as he develops a lifelong love of reading.

Nursery and Reception

Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Harry and the Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow

Kipper by Mick Inkpen

Percy the Park Keeper by Nick Butterworth

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

Traditional Tales

Nursery Rhymes


Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Anything by Julia Donaldson

The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhof

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs byGiles Andreae

Ping Pong Pig by Caroline Jayne Church

Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Peace at Last by Jill Murphy

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

The Sheep Pig by Dick King-Smith

Just William by Richmal Crompton

The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Any Roald Dahl book, but paricularly The Twits, Fantastic Mr Fox and

George's Marvellous Medicine

Captain Underpants by Dave Pilkey

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon


Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence    

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

Kasper in the Glitter by Philip Ridley

Asterix and Obelix by Goscinny and Uderzo

Anything by Roald Dahl

The Famous Five/Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling

How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Gangster Granny by David Walliams   

The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis

The Silver Sword by Ian Seraillier

Senior School

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger


The Outsiders by S E Hinton


Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby


Touching the Void by Joe Simpson


Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne


1984 by George Orwell


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque


Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens


The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness


Maze Runner by James Dashner




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