Introducing Reading Planet Lift-off!

A guest blog from author, Gill Budgell

It was clear from the outset that this reading programme would be different.

Reading Planet would take children on an exciting journey from the familiar to the new, support them in taking new strides in new terrains and inspire them with the awe and wonder of reading. The biggest challenge was where to start…

And then we struck gold.

  • New research at Coventry University showed that simple speech rhythm activities played regularly for even just 10 minutes could better prepare children for reading readiness.

  • Established research proves over and over again that speaking and listening is a fundamental building block of developing language skills, and that picture books provide rich opportunities to chat about text without the pressure of decoding.

Armed with this evidence, we set about crafting an exciting launch pad for our youngest readers. Ironically, for having no words, they proved the hardest books to write and despite having simple speech rhythm activities, they were the toughest to describe succinctly. In Lift-off, less is more…  



In the past, wordless books may have been left in the cupboard as we weren’t so sure what to do with them or how parents would respond, and we would rush children on to begin formal reading too soon. But Lift-off makes the strongest case yet for the power of pictures and the significance of speech rhythm training before any formal reading instruction begins. Lift-off resources provide settings, stories, information and ideas that are irresistible to teachers, parents and the very youngest learners in school. We have been privileged to work alongside experienced Early Years advisers, literacy consultants and researchers to create captivating books that get children both talking and listening. 


Sample from I Spy

With 6 fiction and 6 non-fiction titles, Lift-off offers a range of stories that are sometimes comfortingly familiar and always guaranteed to set imaginations alight. In non-fiction, we explore dens, transport and a spot of body popping! These books are rich in communication and language development opportunities and this is all supported by inside cover notes that contain easy-to-use prompts and guidance. 


Sample from I Spy


The resources also include audio narratives, songs, rhymes, poems and sound effects. Colourful posters are designed to be shared and personalised for further talk, practice and extension.


Sample Lift-off poster

The Lift-off Teacher’s Guide contains practical ideas for each Letters and Sounds Phase 1 aspect and shows how to integrate these into indoor/outdoor continuous provision as well as into session plans. Teachers can ask their teaching assistants or parent helpers to support children’s interests and provide them with clear guidelines.


Sample from Lift-off Teacher's Guide

We have worked incredibly hard to ensure Lift-off provides children with an essential launch pad to develop the key language and communication skills, in particular speech rhythm sensitivity, they need to become reading ready. We hope you enjoy using the resources as much as we've enjoyed developing them. 

Gill Budgell, author of Lift-off, Rising Stars Reading Planet's unique pre-literacy strand.

If you would like to see more samples from Reading Planet Lift-off, visit our website here.

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