Suggested use of the Word-level readers and their alignment with Ready to Read Scope and Sequence

Suggested use of the Word-level Readers and their alignment with Ready to Read Scope and Sequence

By Alison Arrow, Associate Professor, Canterbury University, Department of Teacher Education


The Word-Level Readers, designed by Joy Allcock are based on a process of learning about decoding that moves from sound (phoneme) to letter pattern (grapheme). Within the level groupings (Level 1-8 and Levels 9-16) target patterns are clearly identifiable.

The texts include a high percentage of words that are high-frequency. The book sequence is based on sounds, with multiple spellings per sound. This means that a higher number of spelling patterns are introduced more rapidly. This contrasts with other commercial, and the Ready to Read Phonics Plus series, which are based on moving from simple to complex orthographic patterns (i.e., from single letters to more than one letter per sound). Because of these differences the Word-Level Readers are best placed to be used as reinforcement and practice of patterns once multiple patterns have been learned in the Ministry or commercial based scope and sequence progressions.

Below, I make suggestions for how the texts in Levels 1-8 and in Levels 9-16 (or later) can be used in the classroom using the Ministry of Education’s Ready to Read Phonics Plus Scope and Sequence. It will also work with equivalent scope levels in other commercial scope and sequence progressions, such as the Little Learners Love Literacy (LLLL) series.

Levels 1-8 (emergent to early)

These texts are best used as students near the end of the Mahuri sequence in the Ready to Read Phonics Plus series, or Level 7 of the LLLL series. At this point children will have learned the grapheme-phoneme correspondences of a range of single grapheme-phoneme correspondences, consonant clusters and both vowel and consonant digraphs. The Word-level Readers will prove additional practice on these grapheme-phoneme correspondences and provide support to learn a range of spellings for the phonemes. More specifically, there are three potential uses for this series to supplement other scope and sequences:

  1. Children who are making rapid progress in learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences and need some additional challenge in learning a wider range of spelling to sound patterns. Word-level Readers provide the opportunity, for example, to learn a range of spellings for each long vowel sound. Word-level Readers from level 4 on would be good for these learners.


  1. More typically developing children who are ready for a challenge in more diverse text. Teachers could select Word-level Readers based on the use of short vowels, consonants and simple morphemes. Word-level Readers levels 1-3 would be useful for this.


  1. Older children who need more specific practice on difference vowel or consonant sound spellings. This would be useful for children who have phonetic knowledge, but who are finding it more difficult to choose correct spellings in their own writing. These texts would provide teachers with texts to target instruction on sound-spellings that are necessary.

Levels 9-16 (early to fluent)

These texts are best used for readers who are moving into Rākau. The books provide opportunities to compare and contrast the range of spellings for given sounds, across short and long vowels, diphthongs, and consonant sounds. The colour of target sounds allow students to identify and focus on the different spellings of the same sounds. For some children moving from the single grapheme for a phoneme to multiple graphemes for a phoneme can be challenging and these texts provide teachers more opportunities to build students knowledge of the variety of grapheme spellings before fully transitioning into Ready to Read Colour wheel texts, or other texts used in the classroom. The more specific uses could be for the following two groups of students.

  1. Children making rapid progress and need more text to practice reading and using decoding strategies. Using these texts will enable students to recognise that sounds can be spelled in a variety of ways.


  1. Older children in tier 2 who need additional texts to read. In particular, the books would support students who need targeted practice on specific features including morphemes and vowel digraphs or trigraphs as well as the many consonant spellings of some sounds.


*Alison Arrow is a researcher and lecturer in the cognitive development of literacy and the teaching of it.