What are decodable books?
Decodable text offers beginning and/or struggling readers a chance to practice the phonics skills they have already been taught using connected text.
Decodable books focus on
- spelling patterns that the reader can decode* given his or her existing knowledge of letter and sound correspondences.
- usually follow a specific sequence of skills and instructional procedures that cumulatively develop with each book.
Quality decodable books
- will not only use simple short vowel words,
- will reflect growth into advanced phonics knowledge and use of vowel digraphs* and multisyllabic words*.
- will introduce one or two new concepts at a time while offering lots of practice opportunities with simpler patterns.
Decodable text is only decodable if children have been taught that particular letter pattern. Decodable text would not (or should not) be handed to a child without the child having first been taught the letter and sound correspondences.
When searching for books for your beginning reader, be aware that the term decodable books is often used incorrectly, particularly when it refers to texts in which only about half the words are decodable. Being able to decode only half the words in a book is very frustrating for most students, and does not support good reading habits. Truly decodable books—are 100% decodable so the student is able to read every word.
The use of decodable books is only necessary for a short period in the foundation stage. When well taught, most children learn the code quickly, begin to self-teach and can then move on to real books rather than being stuck for several years on reading schemes with the restricted word count necessary to ensure adequate memorisation of the high frequency words.
Why Are Decodable Books So Important for Beginning Readers?
When a child is expected to read books that are not decodable, they often become frustrated and start guessing at words, thereby developing poor reading strategies. In the process, the child loses the direct connection between the phonics and word analysis skills they are learning and the actual text they are expected to read.
On the other hand, when a child reads a fully decodable book, they can use their knowledge of phonics and their word analysis skills to decode unfamiliar words. Because the child can figure out every word in the book, they feel successful, which in turn helps them build fluency and develop good reading strategies.
*What some of these words mean
Phonics is a method of teaching people to read by matching sounds with letters of the alphabet.
To decode means to break down a word and figure out how to pronounce it.
A digraph is two letters that spell one sound. Vowel digraphs that spell vowel sounds include the letter pairs ai, ay, ee, ea, ie, ei, oo, ou, ow, oe, oo, ue, ey, ay, oy, oi, au, aw.
Multisyllabic words have more than one syllable, or vowel sound.
- Examples include
- napkin: nap / kin
- silent: si / lent
- model: mod / el
- dolphin: dol / phin
- partner: part / ner
Where to get books
For the home:
Check with the school to see what they have.
Free ebooks to download
Young Reflections have books can that be bought individually or as a pack. They are Lion Crest books.
Dandelion Launcher series
Decodable Readers Library Series