Year 1 Reading

Discover Year 1 Reading Standards

One of the most important English skills for children to learn in Year 1 is reading confidently and fluently. As parents, it can be overwhelming to break down such a large skill into manageable, teachable chunks. To help you, we’ve compiled the below list of reading skills that your children will need to develop in Year 1. This guide also provides examples of reading activities that you can do to develop these skills.

There are two reading skills to tackle in Year 1:

Word Reading

Recognising that letters on the page represent sounds that can be put together to make words is the key principle of phonics and early reading. In Year 1, there are several elements to this that young readers will learn and develop throughout the year.

Features of a sentence

Learners in Year 1 need to be able to recognise the features of a sentence. The first word of a sentence begins with a capital letter and a sentence ends with end punctuation: period, question mark, or exclamation point.

Practice Tip

Play Waterfall Word Jumble on Night Zookeeper to improve your child’s sentence structure knowledge!

Sounds within words

Children in Year 1 will practise their ability to hear, recognise, and manipulate the sounds within words, which will inherently improve their general comprehension skills. The following skills are all phonological awareness objectives for your young reader’s year group level.

1. HEARING the long and short vowel sounds in spoken words and being able to distinguish between the two.

long a sound - cake

short a sound - cat

2. BLENDING sounds to form single-syllable words.

/c/ /a/ /t/ ⇨ cat

3. ISOLATING the initial, medial, and end sounds in single-syllable words. This involves a child hearing a word and then identifying sounds according to their position within the word.

  • What is the first sound you hear in the word cat? /c/
  • What is the middle sound you hear in the word cat? /a/
  • What is the final sound you hear in the word cat? /t/

4. SEGMENTING single-syllable words into individual sounds.

  • The name Sam can be segmented into the sounds /s/ /a/ /m/.

Practice Tip

Ask your early reader to select a word from the Common Exception Words list and then read it aloud to them. Now ask them to work through the four concepts (HEARING, BLENDING, ISOLATING, SEGMENTING) focusing on the chosen word.


In Year 1, young readers will learn the sound and spelling for common consonant digraphs, such as those listed here.

  • ch
  • sh
  • th
  • ph
  • wh

They will use their knowledge of phonics to decode single-syllable words similar to these examples.

  • pit
  • nap
  • Tim
  • did
  • gap
  • pot

Children will learn the different vowel teams that represent long vowel sounds. The words below all have different spellings of the long a sound.

  • cake
  • train
  • day
  • eight
  • great

Children will learn to identify syllables. Understanding syllables can help children to decode longer words, such as pocket and sunset which have two syllables.

They will also be taught to read words with inflectional endings and to read common irregularly spelled words.

Inflectional endings:

  • s | trees
  • es | boxes
  • ing | running
  • ed | cooked

Practice Tip

Ask your early reader to identify inflectional endings to words when reading sentences or short paragraphs. This lesson on Night Zookeeper asks children to read a short text and click on all the words that end with -ing.

"Night Zoo Spelling" is a lesson series on that helps children develop phonics.


Year 1 students need to be able to read age-appropriate texts well enough to enable reading comprehension. Once they are able to read words confidently, your child will be able to move on to the higher level skill of understanding what words mean within sentences and paragraphs.

Here are 5 things you can do to help your child practise reading:

  1. Read Year 1 books to your children and model what a fluent reader sounds like.
  2. Ask your children to read simple sentences aloud and then repeat them 3 more times.
  3. Promote daily reading time. Challenge your children to read for 30-minutes per day.
  4. Use a ruler on the page to focus your child’s attention to one line of text.
  5. Practice sight words regularly until they are able to recognise them instantly.

Reading Comprehension

Children will read both narrative and informative texts in year one. They will practise asking and answering questions about a given text to demonstrate reading comprehension. Where relevant, this may include comprehension questions about describing characters and settings within a story, or describing the connection between two pieces of information. They’ll practise retelling short stories in their own words and try to identify key details. Where appropriate they will compare texts on the same topic identifying similarities and differences.

Practice Tip

Cover up a word in a sentence and ask your child to guess what the missing word is based on the context. The Penguin Paragraphs challenge on Night Zookeeper can help students develop their reading comprehension skills. In this challenge children need to read and comprehend the text to identify where the missing words should be placed.

"Penguin Paragraphs" is a challenge on that helps children develop reading comprehension skills.

How Night Zookeeper can help

Night Zookeeper logo, displayed on tablet screen.

Looking for a way to keep your child engaged, entertained, and excited to read? Try Night Zookeeper!

Our reading & writing program covers all areas of Year 1 reading, and uses a gamified approach to make learning fantastically fun for even the most reluctant readers.

Improve your child’s reading skills with our award-winning content created by education experts, with reading activities such as comprehension quiz questions and interactive lesson series. We also offer audio support for young readers so they can hear words and sentences read aloud as they follow along.

Sign up today to get a free 7-day trial!

Related articles

  • Reading (overview)
  • Reading Games For Kids
  • Reading Comprehension Resources
  • Primary English Curriculum
  • Year 1 Writing
  • Year 1 Spelling
  • Year 1 Grammar
  • Year 1 Punctuation
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