Book Band are one of the many guided reading schemes designed to encourage and improve the reading ability of pupils in Early Years and Primary education. Book Bands were originally proposed by the UCL Institute of Education as a guide for Primary school teachers to support the learning and development of their pupils. The scheme is made up of 16 levels or coloured codes and is based on different reading levels. Book Bands are a popular reading scheme as they provide a clear road map for teachers and parents to follow each child’s reading journey, whilst accommodating a whole-school reading programme.

What Do Each Book Band Levels Mean?

Book Bands begin with Lilac (Level 0), catering to early readers in reception or nursery, focusing on storytelling through vivid imagery. Progressing through the levels, readers can reach Black (Level 16), tailored for proficient Year 6 students, enabling them to engage with diverse reading materials and delve into deeper analysis of the text. Though each band is signified to a suggested year group, excelled or struggling readers may look beyond the suggested band.

Book Band Level Guide

Lilac Book Bands (Level 0)

Lilac introduces wordless picture books, fostering creativity as young children craft their own narratives. It's a foundational level where children begin to explore books, honing core speaking and listening skills. Designed for nurseries and Reception classes, Lilac Books focuses on essential reading basics: holding a book, turning pages in sequence, distinguishing between images and text and crafting stories based on visuals. Lilac books encourage pupils to be hands-on with books rather than having them read by a teacher.


Discover our Lilac-banded books here.

Pink Book Bands (Level 1)

Pink Banded books serve as the introduction of fundamental reading concepts and skills to early readers. This band includes the first level of reading scheme books. Pink Banded Books are tailored to children in Reception and Year 1 who are entirely new to reading. These books are usually around 10 pages long, with up to 5 words per page. The language used in Pink Band Books is usually fully decodable as pupils begin phonics and reading with the support of teachers and teaching assistants. Often featuring familiar characters and adventures from Lilac Band Books, Pink Band Books instils motivation as students are already acquainted with the stories. Pupils should begin to understand basic text comprehension such as names, objects and common words such as ‘the’, ‘is’, ‘she’ etc. Teachers may be encouraged to read these books out aloud to a class and ask pupils basic questions about the book.

Start your pupils' reading journey with our Pink banded books here.

Red Book Bands (Level 2)

When a child can confidently recognise 25-30 high-frequency words, they're ready for Red. These books feature a higher word count per page and typically span 8 to 12 pages. Introducing recurring characters from Lilac, Red-banded books are ideal for beginner readers in Year 1 and Reception pupils gaining confidence in their reading skills. At this stage, students should grasp how the title and front page conveys information about the book, how illustrations aid in understanding unfamiliar words and recognise a full stop as the end punctuation mark in a sentence.

Take the next step in your pupil's reading journey with our Red-banded books here.

Yellow Book Bands (Level 3)

Books at the Yellow level introduce children to new vocabulary while slightly increasing the number of words per page, typically adding one new word for every twenty familiar words. Non-fiction titles in this band cater to children's interests, featuring high-quality photographs to prompt discussions. Yellow-banded books, approximately 15 pages long with 1 or 2 sentences per page, remain targeted toward Year 1 pupils and higher-ability Reception students. By this stage, pupils should demonstrate the ability to recall stories from memory, read confidently without pointing at words unless needed, blend phonemes to understand words (e.g., d-o-g) and make predictions about upcoming events in the story.

Find captivating fiction and non-fiction in our Yellow-banded books here.

Blue Book Bands (Level 4)

Once children can recognise 100 high-frequency words, they're ready for Blue. Books at this level increase in complexity, relying less on illustrations and encouraging children to read with insight and expression. Aimed at capable Year 1 pupils and high-achieving Reception students, Blue-banded books prompt children to select books based on their interests. At this stage, pupils should begin to self-monitor, noticing and correcting their own mistakes and tackle more complicated words such as 'some', 'little', 'when' and 'out' as their understanding expands.

Offer your pupils a challenge with our Blue-banded books here.

Green Book Bands (Level 5)

Green-banded books offer more complexity with additional characters and diverse text forms like non-fiction, rhymes, diagrams and verse. They introduce compound words, longer sentences and increased punctuation. Typically spanning 20 pages with 3 or 4 sentences per page, Green Band Books cater to capable Year 1 and lower-ability Year 2 pupils. By this stage, students should be able to discuss each character, read basic texts fluently while understanding punctuation and identify rhyming words. As their comprehension deepens, pupils should utilise contents pages or glossaries in non-fiction books and consider the overall plot, predicting the book's conclusion before completing it.

Get your pupils lost in stories with our Green-banded books here.

Orange Book Bands (Level 6)

Upon recognising 250 high-frequency words, children advance to Orange, where new words are introduced and previously encountered ones are reinforced. Orange books feature an augmented word count per page and more pages, ranging from 16 to 24 pages with 4 or 5 sentences per page. Students at this level should grasp reading and understanding compound sentences, identifying the story's beginning, middle and end and comprehending the distinctions between fact, fiction and non-fiction. Orange Book Banded books cater to higher achieving Year 1 and capable Year 2 pupils.

Foster confidence in your pupils with our Orange banded books here.

Turquoise Book Bands (Level 7)

Turquoise books signify a transition with an increased focus on descriptive language, featuring more adjectives and expressive verbs. With fewer pictures per page and expanded text, these books delve into high-interest themes like danger, courage and anger. By this stage, children should confidently recognize around 450 high-frequency words. Turquoise represents the pinnacle level for the strongest Year 1 readers and capable Year 2 pupils. Students should feel comfortable reading silently, understand various types of punctuation and their usage, fluently navigate long sentences and paragraphs and explore a diverse range of fiction and non-fiction. Additionally, they should begin identifying interests across various genres and subjects.

Find your pupil's next favourite read in our Turquoise-banded books here.

Purple Book Bands (Level 8)

Purple books mark a progression with longer sentences and an expanded vocabulary range. Many Purple books introduce short chapters to stimulate children's reading skills. By this stage, children will have encountered a significant portion of high-frequency words and teachers will be encouraging reading for pleasure. Students should be capable of reading longer books with chapters silently for extended periods, across fiction, non-fiction and poetry genres. Additionally, they should be adept at using a dictionary to find word meanings and expressing their preferences for books by explaining their likes or dislikes. Purple Book Banded books are tailored for capable Year 2 readers.

See our full Purple-banded books here.

Gold Book Bands (Level 9)

Gold books present a more sophisticated language style, aiming to challenge readers. Children at this level should grasp unusual text layouts such as speech bubbles, complex language and character variation. Typically spanning about 25 pages with 5 to 10 sentences per page, Gold Band Books are tailored for lower-ability Year 3 and high-achieving Year 2 pupils. At this stage, pupils should exhibit genuine confidence in their reading abilities, demonstrating a strong understanding of contents pages, glossaries and indexes in books. They may opt for books with longer chapters and begin to identify authors to inform their reading choices. Encouraging discussions about narrative structure can further enhance their comprehension skills.

Give Key Stage 1 pupils a challenge with our Gold-banded books here.

White Book Bands (Level 10)

In the White level, sentences with two or three clauses and multiple verbs become more prevalent, while text length extends to around 1,000 words to enhance reading stamina. Real-life problems are introduced to foster empathy. Pupils should comfortably read silently for extended periods without distractions. The use of dictionaries and thesauruses becomes more frequent as pupils seek to understand word meanings and find synonyms. Additionally, pupils should adeptly identify information within texts and begin expressing their own opinions. Novels become more common as pupils no longer rely on images to form their understanding. White Book Bands cater to capable Year 3 pupils and higher-ability Year 2 pupils.

Find your pupil's next favourite read in our White banded books here.

Lime Book Bands (Level 11)

Lime introduces a diverse selection of chapter books and non-fiction titles, encouraging readers to explore various texts, styles and genres to refine their reading preferences. This band also encompasses a range of topics and issues to spark meaningful discussions. Lime Book Banded books enable pupils to delve deeper into emotions, discerning nuanced details that carry significant meaning and grasp the distinctions between first and third-person perspectives when a narrator is present. Students should develop empathy towards characters, understand their emotions and feel at ease using glossaries and indexes to swiftly locate information. Lime level books cater to the strongest readers in Key Stage 1, lower ability Year 4 pupils and confident Year 3 readers.

Immerse your pupils in magical worlds with our Lime-banded books here.

Brown Book Bands (Level 12)

Brown books provide children with a diverse array of texts essential for fostering confidence and success in reading. Featuring a variety of characters, topics and text styles, these books aim to keep children engaged and stimulate discussion among individuals and class groups. Targeted at higher ability Year 3 and confident Year 4 pupils, readers at this stage should be fluent and comfortable expressing their opinions about books in group settings. Additionally, pupils should demonstrate the ability to skim through previously read text to locate answers swiftly. At this level, pupils should hopefully exhibit genuine joy and interest to further their reading skills.

Discover enchanting stories in our Brown-banded books here.

Grey Book Bands (Level 13)

These banded books offer pupils opportunities to engage with more sophisticated wordplay and diverse narration styles. They should be able to delve into discussions about characters and narrators in greater detail. At this level, students may find enjoyment in silent reading, so it's beneficial to incorporate regular quiet reading sessions. Grey Book Bands are suitable for lower ability Upper Key Stage 2 pupils and higher ability Lower Key Stage 2 pupils. Students should develop and articulate opinions about characters' motivations, as well as grasp a diverse range of language, including wordplays and puns that may challenge some readers. Additionally, pupils could begin making notes and highlighting key events in a story to deepen their understanding.

Engage your pupils in immersive stories with our Grey-banded books here.

Dark Blue Book Bands (Level 14)

Dark Blue books offer a diverse selection of stories and non-fiction titles, presenting varied content, narrative styles and points of view. This level encourages readers to develop opinions and discuss their reading preferences. These books feature more complex text features, including overarching plots, deeper character relationships and themes. Pupils should be acquainted with various authors and capable of discussing their works critically. They should demonstrate increased confidence in their reading, selecting texts with intricate descriptive vocabulary and articulating the purpose, audience and viewpoints of different texts. Dark Blue Book Banded books are suitable for higher achieving Year 4, confident Year 5 and lower achieving Year 6 pupils.

Find captivating narratives in our Dark Blue banded books here.

Burgundy Book Bands (Level 15)

Burgundy books prompt children to synthesise information from various parts of a text, recognising how layers of meaning contribute to humour or tension build-up and discussing the author's techniques for achieving these effects. Books at this level are written with subtlety, requiring readers to fully engage with the text to comprehend it. Pupils should possess a strong understanding of key text features and be able to describe the messages, moods and attitudes conveyed in a book and how they might impact the reader. Burgundy books are designed for upper Key Stage 2 pupils, specifically higher achieving Year 5 students.

Indulge in rich texts with our Burgundy Band books here.

Black Book Bands (Level 16)

Black-banded books represent the pinnacle of the Book Band grading system, reserved for strong, confident readers typically at the high-ability end of Year 6. These children can freely choose books based on personal preference and often read for pleasure. Black books feature minimal or no illustrations and contain complex text features akin to "real" or non-scheme books. At this stage, children are considered free readers and should be given Black Book Banded books if they are confident Year 6 readers of higher ability. Pupils should demonstrate proficiency in decoding and comprehension, enjoying longer chapter books. They should feel comfortable selecting from a wide array of texts and genres independently, including poetry, plays and textbooks, without requiring teacher intervention.

Give your pupils a challenge with our Black-banded books here.


At BookLife, we offer convenient packs for individual Book Band Levels as well as comprehensive sets covering entire Key Stages or all levels, perfect for topping up a specific level or revamping your entire library. What's even better is that every Book Band pack qualifies for Match Funding, allowing your school to save 50% on every book. Our Book Band collections includes a diverse mix of engaging fiction and interesting non-fiction books, as well as our own award-winning BookLife Non-Fiction Readers, fully decodable and designed to enhance reading experiences for young learners. BookLife also offers other reader schemes such as Accelerated Reader™ and fully decodable phonics books.