What’s next after Essential Letters and Sounds?

Reading Beyond Phonics

If you’re thinking about the next steps for your children after they’ve completed the Essential Letters and Sounds phonics programme, we’re here to help!

From learning to read, to reading to learn

Once a child has learnt all their sounds and can decode and blend new words accurately, they then need support to develop their reading fluency, their enjoyment of reading and the confidence to tackle longer and more challenging texts. 

Essentially, they need to go from learning to read, to reading to learn, and to reading independently for pleasure. Some children make this transition effortlessly – they very naturally ‘become readers’ – but most continue to need support. At Oxford, we advocate the continued use of expertly levelled reading books after a phonics programme to help support children’s progression and confidence as readers.

Using levelled reading books to support progression and confidence

Levelled books are particularly important when children are choosing books to read independently. Offering books at the right level of challenge helps to ensure that reading is a successful and enjoyable experience, and that children are developing their vocabulary and knowledge of the world based on age-appropriate content. Using levelled books as part of a rich and varied reading diet can therefore help with motivation, nurturing a lifelong love of reading.

Here’s our top pick of tools and resources for reading beyond phonics:

Oxford Reading Levels

Oxford Reading Levels

Our unique text levelling system, used to determine the level of many of our popular primary reading books. The system, with levels ranging from 1 to 20, has been created over decades by our experts, authors and teachers to support readers throughout primary school. We develop books with Oxford Reading Levels at their heart, and these levels progressively build fluency, vocabulary, confidence and stamina, making them truly effective in supporting children’s progress.

Find out more here.


TreeTops Reflect

High-quality books for junior school readers from many well-known and much-loved authors. Our most recent series, TreeTops Reflect, offers powerful fiction and non-fiction, with fresh intriguing subject matter designed to make children think and connect to diverse experiences.

Check out the full TreeTops series here.

Project X Alien Adventures

Project X Alien Adventures

An award-winning series, running from Oxford Reading Level 1 to 20. You may already be using the Alien Adventures series at the earlier, fully-decodable levels, as part of Essential Letters and Sounds, but if you’re not then it’s a great resource for supporting and motivating readers through an exciting series of fantasy adventures that really capture the imagination.

Find out more here.

Project X Origins 

Project X Origins Graphic Texts

Action-packed fiction and non-fiction for guided and independent reading that’s perfect for children as they come off their phonics scheme. The Origins Graphic Texts are a great way to explore classic stories, poetry and biographical non-fiction through rich, visual interpretations that bring them to life and inspire readers.

Check out the full series

Oxford Reading Buddy

Oxford Reading Buddy

A digital reading programme that motivates children and helps them become confident readers. It contains fun interactive Reading Buddies that coach children ‘in the moment’ of reading and have been proven to improve their comprehension.

All the books on Oxford Reading Buddy are levelled using Oxford Reading Levels and some of the books may already be familiar to you through Essential Letters and Sounds. To save you time, Oxford Reading Buddy automatically moves a child to the correct Oxford Reading Level based on their progress and performance, ensuring they can always choose from a selection of books that are right for them.

Find out more about ORB

Oxford Children’s fiction

Oxford Children's Books

In addition to our levelled reading books, we also have loads of popular titles for wider independent reading, such as our popular Isadora Moon and Marv series.

View Oxford Children’s fiction

The next step in the reading journey

We’re here to support you and your children with the next step of the journey after Essential Letters and Sounds, whatever that might be. Our expert team of local educational consultants can provide you with guidance tailored to your school and your specific needs. If you’d like to benefit from this, then book a free no-obligation appointment today.