Professional Development

January 29, 2022

6 Reasons Why You Should Try Using Decodable Readers in Guided Reading

Decodable readers have become pretty popular in the literacy community. Where are you at with using decodable readers? Do you know where to start? Maybe you’ve been hearing all about them, but you haven’t had a chance to sit down and dive in. Maybe you’re still not even sure why using decodable readers in your reading small groups matters. I get it, friend! And I’m here to help.

Using decodable readers gives students the opportunity to practice their phonics skills in a text that is aligned to a certain skill. Decodables also encourage students to attend to the text they are reading, instead of merely looking at the pictures to help them decode words. Let’s chat about some reasons to use them in your classroom today on the blog!

If you’d rather watch or listen to learn more about this, you can check out my YouTube video where I’ll talk you through using decodable readers!

1. Using decodable readers provides explicit practice.

Decodable readers provide students with an opportunity to explicitly practice the phonics skill they learned or the one they are working on. If a student is working on short vowel sounds, a good decodable reader set will have some books that focus on short vowels.

Most of the text will be made up of words that have short vowel sounds so that students can practice that skill. Decodable readers give students authentic, meaningful practice with phonics skills. 

2. Decodable books align with phonics instruction.

A good set of decodable readers should follow a progression, just like your phonics instruction does. After you find out your students’ strengths and weaknesses regarding phonics, you could use a decodable reader with them that addresses their area of need. 

I have four different sets of decodable readers that do exactly this! You can grab each set: Short Vowels, Blends, Digraphs, or Long Vowels. You can also get the bundle of all four for a discount HERE!

3. Decodable readers provide a connection between phonics instruction and reading.

Choosing to use decodable books in your classroom provides your students with authentic opportunities to practice the phonics skills you are teaching.  You can use decodable readers in so many ways! You could have your students keep them in their book boxes to practice with. Finally, you could also use them during your reading small groups.

Giving students the opportunity and resources to practice their phonics skills more than just during your phonics time in class is so beneficial for their growth as readers! It’s also powerful when they see the connection between the work they are doing in phonics and applying it to the words they are reading in books! 

4. Decodable books could help with gaps in instruction. 

Giving students that extra practice with authentic resources can help there to be fewer gaps in their reading instruction. When students have multiple opportunities for practice, we know they usually get it a little quicker, than when they don’t have many opportunities to practice. Using decodable readers could help students close gaps in their reading skills and phonics instruction. 

5. Decodable readers are good for beginning readers as they encourage them to attend to the text.

Decodable readers are so helpful for beginning readers. They encourage them to pay attention to the text and the phonics skills they see, and not just the pictures. We know beginning readers need lots of instruction and practice with letters and sounds. Decodables give beginning readers the opportunity to practice the phonics skill they are working on in meaningful ways. We want them to practice looking at the letters and making every sound when reading, not just looking at the pictures.

I have some FREE Decoding Strategy Posters you can grab if you’d like! Click the image above!

6. Decodables meet readers where they are.

Decodable readers meet students where they are. If a student is working on short a, they can practice that phonics skill in the short a decodable reader. A good decodable reader set builds on the previous phonics skills. This provides students with continued, repeated practice with the skills they have already learned and practiced. 

If you’re not sure how to get started but are eager to try, I have a set of FREE decodable passages that you can use in guided reading. I have an entire blog post that walks you through how to use them HERE! Pick up your free set and get started today!

Decodable readers are such a great resource for us to use in our classrooms. Have you started using them with your students yet? If you are using them, what have you seen your students grow in this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy Teaching!

Are you looking to learn more about bringing the science of reading research to your reading small groups? Join me in this FREE workshop!

Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? This FREE guide is packed with engaging ideas to help them grow!

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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