Okay so you’ve made the decision that you
want need to start using decodable books with your kindergarten and first grade readers, but where do you start? How do you know which decodable books will help your students strengthen their reading skills? There are just so many options out there that it’s hard to know which ones are the best for your classroom.
I want to help you navigate how you can find decodables that will boost your readers, have meaningful practice, and are engaging. I’ll show you what to look for and how to choose the right decodable books for you!
By the way, if you’d rather watch or listen to this blog, I have a brand new YouTube video out on this topic. Check it out HERE!
Why You Should Use Decodable Books
The ultimate goal of using decodable books is to give students authentic practice decoding words. 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.
The Simple View of Reading tells us that decoding (the ability to apply sound-symbol relationships to read words) plus language comprehension (the ability to understand spoken language) equals reading comprehension. If the ultimate goals of reading are to learn and to enjoy, our readers must be able to comprehend what they are reading.
You can read more about why decodable books are important HERE!
Elements of Decodable Books
One of the most important elements of decodable books and readers is that it follows a scope and sequence. Books should follow a predetermined sequence that adds one new skill at a time. Decodable books should also have a high percentage of decodable words with skills that have been taught. If you are working through cvc words, you don’t want a decodable reader with tons of words that do not fall into those spelling patterns.
Decodable readers will also incorporate fluency practice and high-frequency word practice with words that have been previously introduced and words that fall into that phonics skill pattern. Finally, comprehension stays at the decodable level and increases as the decodability difficulty increases. Remember, decodable books should still tell a full story.
What to Look for In Decodable Books
The first thing to look for when searching for quality decodables is a set that follows a scope and sequence. Now there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong sequence, but you do want to look for one that will be beneficial to your students. Then you’ll want to follow through and stick with the same scope and sequence so your students have a progression to follow.
Quality decodable readers are controlled in their progression. You want to have none or very few instances of phonics skills that have not been previously taught. Next, you want the scope and sequence to be comprehensive. Meaning each new book includes previously taught skills, too. We want our readers to continuously practice their decoding skills in authentic ways as they build upon each other.
Finally, a decodable book should have many opportunities to practice the phonics focus skill. If you are having students practice the sh digraph, there should be plenty of words with sh in them throughout the text. We want our phonics lessons to transfer over to actual reading practice. Reading a text connected to a phonics skill solidifies phonics knowledge.
Tools to Support You
To help you prepare for meaningful and successful reading small group lessons, I have five decodable readers kits (and a bundle!) with everything you need!
- Short Vowels Decodable Readers
- Blends Decodable Readers
- Digraphs Decodable Readers
- Long Vowels Decodable Readers
- Decodable Readers BUNDLE
- Open Syllables (Single Syllable) Decodable Readers
Let’s take a peek at what’s all included! First, each kit has a decodable book for each phonics skill covered in the kit. The books come in a printable color and black and white formal, digital format, and passage format. Each book has a high decodability rate, is comprehensive, and follows a scope and sequence.
Each decodable reader kit also has tools for you like organizational labels, teaching posters, word work practice, and phonics skill practice for each lesson.
Additionally, each book also has a parent communication note. First, you can send the book home with the note so parents can read with their child. Then, parents will have some prompts to try if they get stuck and comprehension questions to ask them
Grab the sets you need and get started reaching every reader in your classroom!