I used to avoid decodable books at all costs. I felt that they were boring, predictable, and would turn off kids from wanting to read for fun.
I turned to leveled readers whenever I had the chance. They pictures were typically richer, and the story had an plot to hold students’ interests. I remember planning my guided reading groups and making sure I taught them multiple ways to solve unfamiliar words. By doing this, I was confident that their fluency and comprehension was going to greatly improve…more so than if they used decodable books.
Then, I started diving into the science of reading research….and now I want to go reteach every student I’ve ever had….
As someone with a Master’s degree in Reading, I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but after pouring over articles, books, and blogs, I’ve finally discovered that our brains must connect the sounds to the letters when solving words. Only relying on pictures or context clues can actually end up teaching some bad reading habits for later on.
While reading with my kindergarten son at home, I stop myself from asking prompts like “Look at the picture for clues. Skip the word and guess a word that makes sense.” None of these cueing systems require him to actually stop and look at the letters and patterns in the word. Now, I have him identifying blends, digraphs, vowels, and more….and his reading has taken off!
Decodable books have now become a staple in our house and I’ve rounded up some amazing decodable texts that are perfect for new readers!
Simple Words Books: Offers decodable chapter books. This is a great option for those older students that still struggle with decoding, but want to be reading the same type of books as their classmates. Anything by this company would be my first choice…they are fantastic!!
Half-Pint Kids: These are amazing for brand new readers! They’re simple and engaging, all while telling stories with a real problem and solution. The books include simple and high level questions to support comprehension. Very affordable and can purchase multiple sets for your small groups!
Reading for All Learners: I have a few of these for my son and they are great! The pictures are wonderful and support rich discussions. They start out very slowly, but with all 141 books, they will keep you busy for a while! Best yet, because of the pandemic, all the online versions are being offered totally FREE!
Whole Phonics: If your kiddos love funny books, these are the ones for you! They have creative stories and some awesome pictures. The books tend to be a little longer, which makes these great for older students that are struggling.