School year > Subject guides > Reading in Year 5 and 6

Reading in Year 5 and 6 (age 9–11)

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So, your child is at the top end of primary school. The focus is now on preparing them to be ready for the demands of the secondary school curriculum. Most children will be reading fluently across all types of books and texts that vary in content, length, purpose, and type. Your child will be using their reading for learning across all subjects as well as for pleasure, and they’ll be developing their own reading tastes.

Reading and other language skills

The emphasis is now on your child reading and responding to what they read accurately and fairly quickly. They will be using accurate grammar and punctuation, as well as adventurous ideas, words, sentences, and paragraphs, to improve their writing as they draw on their wider reading experience. Your child should also be able to read and spell unfamiliar words using their knowledge of phonics and word structure. They will develop their spoken language through public speaking, performance, and debate.

Reading to learn

Children in Years 5 and 6 use their reading for different purposes across different subjects. For example, they might research a historical topic, explore biographical information, or read for pleasure. They will continue to explore how writers make their writing interesting and effective, and will be improving their writing skills themselves. In school, they’ll be able to work confidently in groups and independently. They will be discussing, sharing, and expressing opinions and understanding decision making. They’ll enjoy making comparisons between what they see on the internet, on television, and in books.

Independent reading

Your child will now be choosing their own reading books. There will still be whole class and group/guided reading sessions in class, where children will be taught quite specific reading and writing skills. One-to-one reading in school is probably now reserved for those who need extra support so reading at home, independently, together, and out loud is still very important.


Teacher assessment and peer assessment continues. In England and Northern Ireland, there are national tests in May or June in maths, reading, grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as teacher assessment of maths, reading, writing, and science. You’ll be kept informed about your child’s progress in preparation for joining secondary school, but if you’re worried then do talk to your child’s teacher sooner rather than later.

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