Motivating students to read for pleasure

Sparx Reader is a reading, comprehension and vocabulary programme that gets all young people reading regularly to help improve their literacy.

How Sparx Reader works

For Students

Students choose a book, and Sparx Reader will regularly check their understanding of the story throughout the book.

For Teachers

Teachers know exactly who is reading, and can focus on those that need intervention and support.

Mark Dixon explains why we created Sparx Reader
See how Sparx Reader works in this demo video

Frequently asked questions

Do students read whole e-books?

Yes, students read whole e-books on the platform, not just short excerpts. Each story has been carefully broken up into passages, and at the end of a passage, a student will be asked a few questions about that part of the story. When they complete the questions, they will move onto the next part of the book.

Does it have a range of books suitable for all reading ages?

We have e-books from a Sparx Level 1, which is roughly equivalent to a reading age of just over 6 (read a sample passage below) up to 16+ (classic literature such as Wuthering Heights). Gold readers can read any paperback book from their school library - some books require teacher validation before they can be read. There are enough books so that students at every level always have a choice of books to read.

Sample passage from a Sparx Level 1 book:

Ben yawned loudly. He had been excited about this trip. The zoo was a fun place, but not with school.

He was bored. He knew about habitats already. His best friend Ted was trying to make him laugh. Ted was good at making silly faces and doing funny voices. But even Ted wasn’t funny today. Nothing was fun.

Even the animals looked bored. All they did was eat. The chimps were next. Ben had hoped they might be playing, but they were just sat in the trees. Bored too.

At what level are students allowed to read books of their own choice?

Students who are new to Sparx Reader will be given a selection of carefully selected e-books which they can work through over several weeks. This allows us to understand whether they are able to read carefully and are motivated to independently finish a book. Those that demonstrate they can do this will then be able to add their own books to the system. We do not use students' level or reading age to decide when to unlock this feature, meaning weaker readers will be able to add their own books if they are reading carefully and are motivated to complete books independently. Similarly, if stronger readers cannot demonstrate that they can read the e-books carefully and remain motivated to complete books, they will continue to only have access to the Sparx Reader e-books.

What are Sparx Reader Points?

Students earn Sparx Reader Points (SRP) when they read a book using Sparx Reader. The number of points they earn reflects the amount of time and effort they spend reading. It means the number of points students are able to earn is independent of their reading speed or ability.

How long should students read for each day?

This is up to you as a school. Sparx Reader is flexible, allowing you to use it as a tool for reading in class, or to set reading homework. For example, some schools use Reader to set 30 minutes of reading practice to be done at home each day. Others have a weekly library lesson where students use Sparx Reader for a dedicated hour of reading.

Are there questions which encourage higher-level thinking such as inferencing and evaluation?

Our aim with Reader is to ensure every student is reading regularly, and for teachers to be aware of exactly who is reading and who is not. When students read with Sparx, we want to ensure that they are understanding what they are reading, so we regularly check their understanding of the story. They have to read the text carefully. We don't have questions that encourage higher-level thinking such as inference and evaluation.

Got a different question? Get in touch

You can register your interest using the link on this page, or you can email us a question at readersupport@sparx.co.uk.

Benefits for teachers and school leaders

Personalised reading tasks

Easy to set every student a personalised reading task to complete in class or at home.

Powerful insights

Real-time insights show exactly who is reading. Teachers can identify class and student progress.

Improved outcomes

Get students reading more. Students read more carefully, and achieve a better understanding of their books. Sparx Reader uses evidence-based practice to improve students’ literacy.

Why students enjoy using Sparx Reader

I love to read so this is a good way for me to do some of my English homework, I enjoy the books and there is a wide range for me to pick from.
Personally, I really like this way of reading, the stories are good and it’s really fun.
There is a good selection of books and the questions aren’t too complicated.
I like the fact that you can get points and I think we should be able to use our points to buy an avatar. It’s really good at testing how much you can remember from the book.
The questions are hard but overall I like it.
All the books are really amazing and I can’t wait to read more!!!
The experience has been great so far and would be perfect to provide more variety in homework.

Choose books from many publishers

Students always have a choice in what they read. Our e-book library has modern fiction books from many publishers as well as classic stories.

Every student can be successful with their reading

Tasks are personalised based on each student's reading ability so that every student can be successful with their reading. The books that a student can choose from are carefully chosen so that the text is accessible yet suitably challenging.

Regular quizzes throughout the book

Students engage with the story because they regularly complete quizzes about the story as they read their book.

Add their own books from the library or home

Students who have demonstrated that they can read carefully and have the motivation and ability to finish the Sparx Reader e-books can add their own books from the school library or home.

Rewarded with Sparx Reader Points

Students receive Sparx Reader Points (SRP) whenever they complete a reading task in Sparx Reader.

Daily Vocabulary Challenge

Students are challenged with daily vocabulary puzzles so they discover and practise new words presented to them in context.

Student League Table

As students complete reading tasks, they gain Sparx Reader Points (SRP) and can compete with other students in their class or worldwide to climb up the leaderboard.

Books on any device

Any device with a web browser is able to access Sparx Reader.

My students are tested on their reading scores in-school at the start and end of the year and Sparx has had a hugely beneficial impact on their reading.
Head of English, Devon
I really like that it gives our children the opportunity to read longer texts but quiz throughout. We've used other reading programmes before and it can be quite a long period of ‘non-quizzing’ for children on the higher levels as their books are so long.
English teacher, South West
I do love that the children are reading actual books as I think it is so important for them.
Primary school teacher, Plymouth
The daily vocab check has been going down really well with the children, they love it! It is really helpful that they are able to skip over a question if needed and the words are well pitched to allow them to learn new vocab as well as succeed with words they are already familiar with.
English teacher, Devon

Evidence

Scientific trials have shown that reading ages can increase by more than 16 months in a year of use.

We have run two controlled trials and are currently running two more to show that using Sparx Reader is a significant improvement over other reading programmes.

Register your interest and we'll get in touch.