What are decodable books?
Decodable books and text passages are an important part of a structured literacy approach to reading instruction. Decodable books and text contain words made of letter-sounds, and spelling and morphological patterns (e.g. prefixes & suffixes) that a student has been explicitly taught. In order to make the text more readable, a small number of high-frequency words that have more difficult or unexpected spellings, such as ‘the’, ‘my’, ‘was’ are also used. As a student learns new parts of the alphabetic code the vocabulary used in the text expands to include the newly learned ‘graphemes’ and ‘morphemes.’
For instance, structured literacy programmes often start by teaching
- 5 short vowel sounds (e.g. /ă/ in ‘cat’),
- most common consonant letter-sounds and
- consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) syllable type (e.g. ‘cat’, ‘pig’, ‘run’).
At this stage, decodable text provided for reading practice would only include those letter-sounds and CVC patterns, such as “The rat bit the pig. The bad rat hid in the tin can. The pig bit the cat”. Words like ‘any’, or ‘water’ would not be included because they include other pronunciations of the letter <a> that have not been taught yet. This is usually followed by words that include digraphs (eg. <sh>, <ch>, <th>) and consonant blends, such as ‘trip’, ‘glad’, ‘camp’, and some common suffixes (<-s>, <-es>, <-ing>, <-ed>). The consonant blends are often very challenging for students with dyslexia and require lots of reading practice which decodable books can offer.
It is important that the decodable text closely matches the sequence of instruction in letter-sounds, morphemes, phonetically irregular words, syllable types and spelling patterns that are taught throughout a structured literacy program, especially for struggling readers.
Decodable readers vs. leveled readers
Decodable text is quite different from ‘leveled readers’ which are used by many reading programs. With leveled readers, children are taught to rely on cues in the text or accompanying pictures to guess unknown words, and/or memorise a list of the most common words found in print. Often predictable and repetitive sentences are used to help students guess the correct words (e.g. “I get my ruler. I get my pencils. I get my shoes. I get my sweater. I go to school.”). Many words in early leveled readers require advanced decoding skills. For example, to successfully decode the word “pencil” a child needs to know that the letter <c> represents the /s/ sound when it comes before the letters <e>, <i> or <y>. And in the word ‘school’, the <ch> grapheme represents /k/.
When to use decodable text/books
Using decodable text in the earlier stages of literacy instruction ensures that a student has the skills to read without guessing. They are especially important for students with dyslexia (or any struggling reader) because they provide reading practice using the knowledge of letter-sounds that are taught explicitly in a scaffolded approach. Reading decodable text helps students build fluency and gain confidence as they become proficient with word-level reading. Eventually, when most of the code has been explicitly taught, students will be able to read regular, more authentic texts. Decodable books are only needed until the student has mastered the code; after that, they can read anything!
Where to find decodable books?
All About Reading readers (Levels 1-4) - nine readers with multiple stories in each that follow this scope and sequence.
Alphabet Series Readers (from Recipe for Reading) - click here for brochure including scope and sequence
Beyond Decodables *NEW* These FREE books are used as part of Focus on First, the first-grade curriculum of the Boston Public Schools. They were These texts were specifically written and illustrated to be culturally relevant and empowering to children in Boston. The books are not 100% decodable but the non-decodable words are provided at the beginning of each book. They follow this scope & sequence.
Bob's Books - Bob's books have inspired reading success for over 40 years. These books introduce letter sounds gradually. Free activities and Apps available.
Core Knowledge Readers - these readers are part of the Skills Strand of the Language Arts program of the Core Knowledge Curriculum. They are available for FREE download here (look for the reader in each grade/unit). Printed copies are available only for purchase in the U.S.
Decodable Readers Australia - Eight levels of decodable readers with 20 books per level, following this scope & sequence. Shipping is available outside Australia. The books are also available in digital, interactive format online and in the app store (iOS only).
Dog on a Log Books by Pamela Brookes. The books, available on Amazon, follow this Structured Literacy/Orton-Gillingham based phonics sequence . Printable games and activities are also available on the website.
Emily Gibbons The Literacy Nest Decodable Reading Passages - available on Teachers Pay Teachers (search in her store for 'decodable reading passages' for different buying options.) One page decodable passages. The scope and sequence are provided at the beginning of each level.
Express Readers Decodable Books - Free resource samples on website. Canadian distributor available through Foothills Education Materials
Fly Leaf Publishing Emergent Readers and 'Decodable Literature'. Free Online Materials Portal available during the 2022-2023 school year!
Half Pint Kids - Level A, B and C. These decodable books revolve around six exciting themes. New words are listed at the beginning of each story and comprehensive questions are listed at the ends. Each book builds upon skills of previous books. Half-Pint Readers, Activity Pages and Games available to read online for free.
High Noon Books offers a selection of phonics-based chapter books. A set of books written for entry level readers. Each book emphasises a specific morphological patters encountered by entry level readers. Short chapter books with the occasional drawing and larger spaced fonts.
HIP Jr Series - Engaging realistic fiction for struggling readers at all levels.
Hill Readers - are a series of 13 phonetically controlled, decodable texts that are designed to complement the Hill Reading Achievement Program (HillRAP); they can be used independently or also to supplement any Orton-Gillingham influenced reading program. Comprehension questions are included. Purchase from Amazon.ca.
IMSE Decodable Readers - Set 1 includes 24 stories based on closed and open syllables (with comprehension questions). Set 2 includes 13 stories based on the IMSE sequence (compound words to vowel team <ai>) and single pages for older students. Both sets are downloadable PDF files that must be printed.
Lark Book Series by Natasha Deen. (Orca Book Publishers) - Fiction.Ages 6-8. Themes: library, sleuth, mystery, detective, private eye, case, twins, siblings, summer vacation.
Meg and Greg Books are unique in that they are designed for partner reading. Pages alternate between decodable text for the student to read and more complex text for the partner to read. Taking turns this way is fun and allows for a rich narrative experience even in the early stages
MultiLit -InitiaLit Readers InitiaLit Readers are available in printed versions or via a subscription to the MultiLit eLibrary, which contains all four series of InitiaLit Readers. Find out more about the MultiLit eLibrary here.
Now I'm Reading - Animal Antics by Nora Gaydos. Booklets 1-5 focus on mostly three-letter short-vowel words, some consonant blends, and early sight words. Booklets 6-10 progress to mostly four-letter short-vowel words, plus additional sight words and consonant blends.
PAF! The PAF Reading Series follows the instructional sequence in the PAF curriculum Teacher Handbook and can be used to supplement any reading program.
Phonics Books for Beginners and Catch-up Readers. These books are from the U.K. but there is a Canadian distributor.
Phonics First Stories for Reading Practice - skill sequence complements Phonics First. Layers One to Four or can be used with any phonics program.
Primary Phonics Storybooks Levels 1-6 including Scope and Sequence (Click here for brochure)
Reading Elephant Reading Elephant is an affordable series of 100+ step-by-step printable decodable books. The books are recommended on the University of Florida website, along with Reading A-Z and other decodable readers.
Readinga-z.com offers short, downloadable, decodable readers. Membership subscription. A free 14 day trial is available.
The Specific Learning Difficulties Association of Australia (SPELD SA) downloadable phonics readers FREE
PhonicBooks - Many different titles / themes available through their Canadian distributors.
Phonics Readers - *NEW* - recently launched by SPELD SA (above). They were made in consultation with Aboriginal communities so that they have characters, content, and settings familiar to Aboriginal students. They follow the Jolly Phonics instructional sequence. FREE
Simple Word Books by Cigdem Knebel. With free, downloadable comprehension workbooks. Available on Amazon.
SyllaSense Inc. is a Canadian company based in the GTA. There are 50 books in the series written by Lee-Ann Lear, and they follow a well-defined scope and sequence that contains grapheme/phoneme correspondences, orthographic conventions, morphology and more. You can purchase directly through their website.
S.P.I.R.E. decodable readers Levels 1-8 (S.P.I.R.E. Scope and Sequence)
Whole Phonics colorful and comic-like readers by Jill Lauren. There are two levels with 15 books each, covering short vowels, double final consonants (ff, ll, ss, zz), and digraphs. There are also accompanying workbooks, videos, and games. Three more levels are in development.
Wilson Reading System 4th edition (Grades 2-12) - Student Readers (Levels 1-12).
(Ressources francophones en littératie structurée)
This collection supports immersion and teachers in French minority settings in intentionally and explicitly teaching phoneme-grapheme correspondence without high frequency words. As modules progress, each builds upon the previous module, only including letters previously taught. Students never encounter a sound-letter combination they haven’t already learned which builds their confidence and abilities in reading.
Cette série de livres faciles à lire est une réponse à la qualité et à la quantité de livres de lecture en anglais tels que la série Bob Books. À la recherche de livres français aussi simples pour sa fille et en l'absence d'une telle collection, l'auteur a décidé d'en créer un.
Léo et Léa est une méthode d'apprentissage de la lecture strictement syllabique qui a fait ses preuves depuis 15 ans auprès de nombreux élèves. Tous les mots et les textes sont déchiffrables à 100 %. La nouvelle édition est conforme aux rectifications des programmes 2018, une nouvelle progression graphophonologique, une structure claire et progressive en 5 périodes, et un travail innovant de différenciation et de remédiation avec l'ajout d'une application tous supports.
Je lis et j'écris avec Salto
Guide pédagogique, cycle primaire, Édition 2019
Les principes pédagogiques de ce guide s'adressent à l'apprentissage de la lecture, de l'écriture et de la compréhension. L’apprentissage du code est nécessaire au cycle primaire avant d’accéder à la lecture-compréhension. Il faut donc d’abord un apprentissage explicite du code pour diminuer la charge cognitive que demande le décodage.
Pour préparer à la lecture-compréhension, les auteurs ont conçu une histoire suivie avec des personnages récurrents, que les élèves suivent au fur et à mesure de leur progression : les élèves écoutent d’abord une histoire lue par le professeur, puis en lisent dans le manuel un résumé accessible et conforme à la progression syllabique. Les avantages de cette méthode:
• Une approche pluri-sensorielle
• Une progression efficace et éprouvée
• L’association lettre-son » : une méthode pour rendre explicites les difficultés orthographiques
• Une progression rigoureuse en production d’écrits
Manuel de l'élève, cycle primaire, Édition 2019
Pour un échantillon gratuit, cliquez ici.
Ce manuel offre une méthode explicite et systématique qui enseigne simultanément le décodage et la lecture-compréhension.
- Pour chaque phonème, la présentation des 4 écritures et du mot-référent.
- La présentation des gestes Borel-Maisonny.
- Les exercices systématiques de discrimination auditive et visuelle.
- Un récit continu sur l’année.
- Des exercices structurés de construction de phrase pour la production d’écrits.
- Des dictées quotidiennes.
Fiches photocopiables, cycle primaire, Édition 2019
- Des exercices nombreux et variés pour entrainer les élèves à la production d’écrits.
- Des exercices de syllabation, de discrimination auditive et visuelle.
- Des exercices variés pour un apprentissage efficace de l’orthographe, du vocabulaire et de la grammaire.
- Une progression rigoureuse en production d’écrits.
- Des exercices de différenciation, de remédiation et de renforcement.
La méthode Regarde, je lis ! permet d'apprendre à lire avec plaisir en s'appuyant sur des lettres dessins et des photos pour une meilleure mémorisation. Elle suit une progression facile du plus simple au plus complexe, de la lettre à la syllabe, du mot à la phrase puis au texte.Pour un apprentissage efficace, la méthode propose aussi : un syllabaire pour s'entrainer,des révisions pour vérifier au fur et à mesure les acquis,des pages sur les difficultés pour éviter les erreurs les plus fréquentes.