Ransom's Neutron Stars series

Neutron Stars has been developed to provide a progressive, structured reading programme for teens and adults.

The series has 10 levels, with three titles in each level. The titles include a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, covering a wide range of topics and genres. Further titles are planned for publication in 2018.


Can I use the books individually?

Absolutely. Any book in the programme can be used as an individual reader. Titles like The Last Solider are really interesting stand-alone reads, providing plenty of scope for discussion.

How is the programme structured? How do the books provide progression?

The books are developed at specific reading levels. There are 10 levels in total. The first four levels use phonics as the basis to develop literacy skills. The next six levels build up reading ability and stamina. Levels 5 - 10 use the structure of the UK Book Band Scheme to provide texts which help the reader build their reading skills in a stepped approach.

(For more general information on Phonics click here. For more on book bands, click here.)

The 10 levels in the series have three titles at each level. The titles include a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, covering a wide range of topics and genres. Further titles are planned for publication in 2018.


How do the phonics levels work?

Neutron Stars contains four levels of phonics books. The text in each of these titles is carefully written to include only those letters and sounds (the phonemes and graphemes) that the reader will already have met. This enables readers to build confidence and to develop their vocabulary using their knowledge of the sounds of each letter.

These books are carefully levelled following the structure for introducing sounds in Phases 2 - 5 of the UK Government’s Letters and Sounds Programme. You do not have to be familiar with Letters and Sounds to use Neutron Stars. But readers are likely to get the most out of the books if they have met the letters and sounds that each book assumes that they have covered.

If you would like to know more about which sounds are introduced in each level of the phonics Neutron Stars levels, you can find out more here.

Do I have to start with the phonics levels?

Absolutely not. They are provided to give an easy route for teens and adults who are learning to read English for the first time, or who are seriously struggling with learning to read. It’s a proven, carefully structured system that works well with very early readers.

How do the book bands work?

The series then levels the books using a specially adapted version of the book band scheme, (a scheme used to teach reading in the UK, New Zealand, Australia and in many other countries around the world).

There are 11 bands, or levels of books, in the book band scheme. Each band is given a colour. Neutron Stars provides books at the lowest six levels: Pink through to Orange.

Why have you levelled the texts to the book band scheme?

The book band scheme offers a structured framework for developing reading skills. With 11 levels, the steps between (and within) each level are very small. This means that reading books can be closely matched to a reader’s ability. Working to the scheme, we can carefully introduce vocabulary and sentence patterns a stage at a time. Working through the colour bands offers progression in both level of difficulty and in aspects such as the structure and meaning of the tex, use of illustrations, captions, glossaries, etc.

You do not have to be familiar with how the book bands work or what is covered at each level to use Neutron Stars.

How does Neutron Stars fit with adult literacy?

Neutron Stars is ideal for adult readers, with carefully chosen topics and illustrations. The 30 books are suitable for use in The Adult Literacy Core Curriculum at Entry Levels 1 and 2. Below is a table giving the adult literacy text levels and SMOG levels for each title.

TitleSMOG levelAdult Literacy Level
Not Pop Not Rock 9 Entry Level 1
Go to the Laptop Man 9 Entry Level 1
Gus and the Tin of Ham 9 Entry Level 1
Deep in the Dark Woods 10 Entry Level 1
Night Combat 9 Entry Level 1
Ben's Jerk Chicken Van 9 Entry Level 1
G B H 9 Entry Level 1
Steel Pan Traffic Jam 9 Entry Level 1
Platform 7 10 Entry Level 1
The Rock Show 10 Entry Level 1
Gaps in the Brain 10 Entry Level 1
New Kinds of Energy 10 Entry Level 1
My Toys 10 Entry Level 1
Curry! 10 Entry Level 1
Free Runners 9 Entry Level 1
Into the Scanner 9 Entry Level 1
Shopping with Zombies 9 Entry Level 1
Planting My Garden 9 Entry Level 1
Fit for Love 10 Entry Level 1
The Lottery Ticket 10 Entry Level 1
In the Stars 11 Entry Level 1
The Giant Jigsaw 10 Entry Level 2
Awesome ATAs 11 Entry Level 2
Wolves 11 Entry Level 2
The Care Home 9 Entry Level 1
Fly, May, Fly 11 Entry Level 2
How to Start Your Own Crazy Cult 10 Entry Level 1
Best Friends 9 Entry Level 2
The Last Soldier 14 Entry Level 2
Text Me 9 Entry Level 2


You can find out about SMOG and Adult Literacy levels elsewhere on this site.

So in short, Neutron Stars has been developed with a careful structure, to provide you with an easy to use programme to develop reading skills in older readers. This interesting range of books can be used alongside literacy intervention programmes such as Toe by Toe, for adults learning to read English as a foreign language, or just to build reading ability using real books which have adult appeal.