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River Primary School

River Primary School


Term 5's whole class reading text is 'Letters from the Lighthouse' by Emma Carroll


Synopsis of Letters from the Lighthouse



February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees.

Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.





At River, we use the 'Vipers' approach to support the teaching of reading. This involves using a range of key question prompts based on the reading content domains found in the National Curriculum. Please look at example question stems below. 



Year 6 VIPERS question stems


Draw upon knowledge of vocabulary in order to understand the text

What does this word/phrase/sentence tell you about the character/setting/mood?

By writing..., what effect has the author created? Do you think they intended to? Can you find examples of simile, metaphor, hyperbole or personification in the text?

Why has the text been organised in this way? Would you have done it differently? What other words/phrases could the author have used here? Why? How has the author made you/this character feel by writing...? Why?


Make inferences from the text

What do you think… means? Why do you think that? Could it be anything else? I think....; do you agree? Why/why not?

Why do you think the author decided to...?

Can you explain why...?

What do these words mean and why do you think that the author chose them? How do other people’s descriptions of …show that…?

Where else in the text can we find the answer to this question?


Predict what you think will happen based on information  given

Can you think of another story with a similar theme? How do their plots differ?

Which stories have openings like this? Do you think that this story will develop the same way?

Why did the author choose this setting? Will that influence the story?


Explain your preferences, thoughts and opinions about the text.

What is similar/different about two characters? Did the author intend that?

Explain why... did that.

Describe different characters’ reactions to the same event.

Does this story have a moral? Which is better and why?

Can you identify where the author has shown bias towards a particular character? Is it fact or is it opinion? How do you know?

How does the author make you feel at this point in the story? Why did they do that?

Can you explain it in a different way


Identify and explain key features of fiction and non fiction texts; characters, events, titles information

Find the... in this text. Is it anywhere else?

Can you skim the next… and find me the answer to…?

When/where is this story set? Find evidence in the text.

Find the part of the story that best describes the setting.

What do you think is happening here? Why?  Who is telling this story?

What genre is…?  Can you look at these other texts and find me what is similar and what is different?


Summarise the

key events in a story

What is the main point of the text? Can you look in this paragraph? What does the author mean? Is it mentioned anywhere else?

Sum up what has happened so far in… words/seconds or less.

Can you read the text and summarise what has happened?

Which is the most important point in these paragraphs? Why?

Do any sections/paragraphs deal with the same themes?

How do VIPERS improve reading skills?

How can you help your child with their reading at home?


Short, regular bursts of reading is key. Even if it's only 10 minutes a day, you'll be surprised at how much they learn and improve!


Why not try...

  • Tag Team - take it in turns to read a page each of your child's favourite book before bedtime.
  • The Early Bird - get your child to read to you on the way to school, instead of listening to the radio.
  • Poetry Post-its - write short poems on Post-its or note paper and put them up in random places around the house. When your child spots one, they have to read it.
  • Magazine Madness - that football magazine or the one that seems only to be filled with happy, rainbow-coloured unicorns still contains words! Instead of just looking at the pictures, ask your child to tell you about it and read it to you while you're cooking the dinner or washing the car.


The key is, make it fun - reading can be enjoyed by everyone!


How can you help with your child's comprehension?


If you have the pleasure of having more time to read with your child at home, then there are many different types of questions that you could be asking them, in order to help develop their comprehension and understanding of the text.


The following documents provide examples of questions that could be asked while reading, for both fiction and non-fiction text types. We hope you find these useful!

Are you challenging yourself to read books from our literary heritage?


Have a look at these lists of books all children should read before they leave primary school. It is your last year at River, how many do you still have left to read?