500 Books has been developed to provide teachers with details of some of the best available books for young children which they can read and share with their pupils irrespective of the way reading is actually being taught. The unique feature of 500 Books is that it gives teachers the opportunity to link their teaching of core phonic skills and sight word reading to ‘real books’ rather than have to reply exclusively on graded books from a reading scheme. This is done through 500 Books’ distinctive approach to skill matching.

It can be argued that the main purpose in teaching young children to read is so that they enjoy books and stories and read for pleasure. A long standing problem in teaching reading has been that many children never reach a point where reading is pleasurable. For example, as far back as 2004 Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) found that few schools, ‘were successfully engaging the interest of those who, though competent readers, did not read for pleasure (p4). More recently in 2012 Ofsted lamented, ‘there has been considerable recent concern about an apparent decline in reading for pleasure (p6). They continued, ‘Inspectors also noted the loss of once popular and effective strategies such as reading stories to younger children (p29). There are many contrasting views to explain why this is the case but there is little doubt that there is now a strong consensus amongst teachers, parents and government that all children should read for pleasure and see reading as a life long source of enjoyment.