The reading colour wheel

The reading colour wheel is a way of showing how your child progresses from learning to read to becoming a confident reader over the first 3 years of school.

What is the colour wheel? 

 reading colour wheel

You might recognise the colour wheel from when you were at school - it's been around for a while.  It has 9-coloured segments showing different levels of reading.  Your child will move around the wheel clockwise, starting with magenta when they are a new entrant and finishing with gold by the end of their third year at school.
The first books your child's teacher will give them will help with basic reading skills, letter-sound knowledge, and help them learn high-frequency words. At the higher levels on the colour wheel, the books and texts are longer and more complex, and include more unfamiliar vocabulary, language, and structures.

How do the colours and levels work?

Year 1

Your child will start at magenta, then progress through red, yellow, blue and after 1 year at school are usually at green.  

At magenta they learn about reading, such as the idea that words are read from left to right.  By the time they are reading at the green level they understand the stories they read, recognise many words, and can check that their reading sounds like talking.  

Year 2

By the end of their second year at school your child will usually have completed orange and be reading at turquoise. They're becoming an independent reader who can read longer texts and with expression.  They will have a range of comprehension strategies that help them understand what they're reading and be able to think critically about what they read.

Year 3

By the end of 3 years at school your child should have completed purple and be reading at gold.  This means they're confidently using many reading and comprehension strategies to understand their reading and think critically about longer, more complicated texts.

What sort of books will my child read?

The colour wheel uses the Ready to Read book series.  These are New Zealand books and the colour wheel is on the back cover of every book so you can see what level it is.  As your child moves up the colours they will start to read stories from the Junior Journals as well, and then in their later primary school years will be reading School Journals.

Your child will also bring home school library books, and some teachers have other class books that they can read.  Encourage your child to read every day - anything that interests them.  Join them up to your local library, look for books that interest them at book fairs and school galas, and let them see you enjoying reading as well.

Share this story

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Tell us what you think.