Literacy is a key element of our plans to improve learning in PCS. The links below will assist you in purchasing/choosing texts with your son/daughter to read throughout the year.



Accelerated Reader (AR)

 A helpful reference for parents who wish to learn more about the BookFinder website, which is associated with Accelerated Reader.


What is AR? 

AR is a reading tool designed to encourage students to read within their capability and to improve literacy. Renaissance have set up reading levels, interest levels and quizzes on over 40,000 books.

How does AR work?

AR starts with an individual assessment of each student’s reading level. The Star Assessment brings the student through a short series of questions about a piece of text – it starts with just a sentence or two and then depending on how the student answers, the next question/piece of text will be generated. The assessment takes less than 30 minutes for most students. 

Once the students have had their Star Assessment, they will be assigned an individual book level called a ZPD which will help them to choose books that are within their reading capability. They can choose from suitably labelled books in the school library or read books or other reading material they have at home or online (e.g.: Kindle etc.). The website lists all books that have AR quizzes.

Once they finish reading a book they should take the associated online quiz, preferably within 48 hours of finishing – students can access this through their individual sign-on. The quiz will assess how well they understood the book and will assign them points based on the level of difficulty, length of text and percentage test result received. 

How does PCS use AR?

We are piloting AR this year amongst our new First Year students. Each class will have a dedicated 40-minute reading class, timetabled for them, per week and will also be encouraged to read at home as part of their nightly homework. Our library is currently under construction and once it is reopened students will be able to choose from a wide range of titles which will be labelled with AR interest levels and book levels. 

We will reassess students periodically throughout the year and assign them new ZPDs based on how well their reading has improved. Going forward, we hope to introduce reading-based challenges to encourage reading practice.

How can students use AR at home?

Students can check online at to see if the books they have at home or on their Kindle have associated AR quizzes – they can also see if the books fall into their reading range. They can then read these books at their own pace and do the appropriate quiz afterwards. We hope that parents will help us to facilitate this.

In time, we hope to cross reference all of the books in our school library onto the Accelerated Reader cloud so that students (and parents) will be able to see which books we have within their ZPD at a glance. 


Case study

St Oliver Plunkett’s Post Primary School in Co Meath have been using AR for a number of years and here is some of their feedback:

Effective strategies were used in many lessons to develop student’s literacy and numeracy skills – Inspection Report 2018

The data and screening reports generated by Star Reading are invaluable – Teacher


myON made reading accessible outside the classroom by providing a personalised selection of books to the students  – Teacher

In 1st year I began having literacy class two times a week. This boosted my 

reading age from around 15 to 16.06 in a few months. Even now in 2nd year, I still look forward to literacy class every week.  – Student 


When I started first year my reading age was 9 years and 11 months, but the average reading age was 12 years and 4 months, so it showed how little reading I was doing. I decided to really start trying to improve. Now my reading age is 11 years and 10 months, so my reading age has really improved – Kirsty, Student 


My reading age being so little in first year affected me and now I am still really trying to improve my reading age and get it to the best that I can. It shows just because you weren’t a big reader when you were younger it doesn’t mean you should stop reading. In my opinion, if you don’t like reading it’s probably because you haven’t found the right author yet but someday you will find it just like I did. My advice to you is to not stop reading and if you haven’t started yet it’s not too late to start now    – Lorna, Student 


I’ve learned that, whenever I am stressed all I need to do is pick up a book and my worry and stress is forgotten,  I am transported to a place where nothing bothers me. Then when I am finished reading, I can tackle my problems with a clear mind, if you don’t believe me a study done by the University of Essex found that reading just 30 minutes a day has the same benefits as doing 30 minutes of yoga, AMAZING!! – Lucy, Student 

Young Adult Best Reads


2017/18 Prescribed English Texts Junior Cycle

Reluctant Readers Suggestions

Library Word of the Day Videos

50 essential young adult novels.

Top 10 overall.

‘Time’ Top 100 Young Adult Books

Everything points to Portmarnock community school