Professional Development

February 5, 2023

Reading Comprehension Passages & Decodable Passages: Why You Need Both

When it comes to teaching students to learn how to read, there are so many different resources and tools for teachers. One of my favorite tools is a reading passage. You can pack so much teaching and practice into such a short amount of text with reading passages.

But which kind should you use – decodable passages or comprehension passages? The answer is both! Your students can benefit from both types and should have lots of practice with both decoding and comprehending. We want to pack our readers’ toolboxes with as many tools as possible for them to use to experience success in reading.

Let’s dive into both kinds of passages and see why each one is important.

Reading Comprehension Passages

Without comprehension skills, reading can feel frustrating and pointless to our young readers. Reading passages for comprehension can help students build strong comprehension skills that will keep them moving forward in reading. We want our readers to be strategic, meaning that they use a variety of skills and strategies and read for a purpose.

To help students practice and develop comprehension skills, one activity you can use is reading comprehension passages. With reading comprehension passages, students will read a short passage that’s a story or about a topic. I personally like to use science-based passages to squeeze in a bit more science in my day.

On the first read-through, I like to focus on the vocabulary words. Then, we’ll read the text again and take notes on what we read. Writing about learning helps make the new learning stick. Next, we’ll read it again and then answer some comprehension questions about the text. Finally, I like to have my students complete a writing extension.

You can get a FREE Seasons Reading Comprehension Passage to try below!

Science News for K-2

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If you want to be set for the year on science-based reading comprehension passages, check out the Reading Comprehension Year Long Bundle. It has 41 weeks of reading passages!

Reading Comprehension Reading Passages

Each passage topic includes:

  • non-fiction passage with multiple-choice questions
  • notes taking page
  • vocabulary page
  • writing extension page

Grab the year long bundle or individual month resources to be set on passages!

Decodable Passages for Reading

Decodable passages are a great resource to use to help you know what phonics skill a student has mastered or if they still need support and practice with that skill. A decodable passage is a short story (usually one or two paragraphs) that focuses on a specific phonics skill. A good decodable passage will only focus on one phonics skill. The passage might focus on short a, blends, or digraphs. 

The passage shows you if a student or a reading small group has mastered the specific phonics skill or if they need more practice and support. Decodable passages are also helpful because they are not overwhelming for students since they only focus on one specific phonics skill at a time. 

Have you been wanting to try some decodable passages with your students? I created some for you and they are free! There are five passages with comprehension questions. Grab them HERE by joining my email list!

If you’re looking for more decodable passages, we have a set for Blends with 18 passages and a set for Digraphs with 15 passages.

Each passage includes:

  • a passage focused on one phonics skill
  • a word list to practice
  • comprehension questions
  • a dictation sentence

Why You Need Both Types of Passages

The ultimate two goals of reading are to enjoy and to learn. To be able to do either of those things, we need our readers to be strategic readers with strong decoding skills. Reading comprehension passages and decodable passages support students in both of those areas.

With The Simple View of Reading, we learn that students need both decoding abilities and language comprehension to develop reading comprehension. Reading comprehension passages can teach students new vocabulary words and help them learn how to use words in texts.

When you start implementing both types of reading passages, you’re sure to see your students experience success in reading!

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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