Have you ever taught students a phonics skill that they totally rocked in isolation, but then dove into the text and couldn’t decode words that presented that same skill? It’s so frustrating right?! Well this is where the power of decodable readers comes in! Students will not only get great practice rocking those decoding skills in text, but they’ll also become more confident and independent readers who feel great about finishing books with ease.
Throughout this post, we will discuss the benefits of decodable readers, how they differ from leveled texts, and of course how to easily implement them in your own classroom! So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive into ALL the magic!
What are Decodable Readers?
Decodable readers are books that contain specific text that give students the opportunity to practice reading content that is aligned with their current phonics instruction. They also contain high frequency words with a review of phonics skills they have already learned.
Decodable readers contain less pictures for students to rely on so they begin to build important word attack strategies. There are a variety of levels for students, ranging from simple patterned options for beginning readers to increasingly difficult and less patterned options for higher skilled readers.
Decodable Readers vs Leveled Readers
So what’s the difference between decodable readers and leveled readers? Decodable readers target explicit phonics skills, there are limited pictures with a heavy focus on word attack strategies, and there are patterns and folded in review of words they already know. This ensures that each book is “just right” for students and there rarely are books they aren’t ready for.
On the other hand, leveled readers are created from Lexile Levels and categorized by their level of difficulty. Oftentimes these books challenge students with inconsistent phonics patterns and can lead students to begin to guess words, rather than building crucial word attack strategies. Many of these books also have easy patterns, but that can sometimes lead to memorization.
Does this mean it is time to throw leveled readers out completely? I say, absolutely not! They still have a place in the classroom and can be used to teach a variety of reading strategies and skills. However, it is important to help students build a strong reading foundation and that is where our decodables can do that for students.
Benefits of Decodable Readers
There are so many great reasons to incorporate decodable readers into your reading instruction. Learning to decode is a huge building block for students learning to read and ultimately helps build their orthographic mapping. This is when words begin to be stored as ‘sight words’ in long term memory so that reading fluency can begin to develop. These books help students create those neural pathways by giving them structured practice to strengthen their decoding skills.
Since decodable readers are aligned with their phonics instruction, they follow a sequential systematic scope and sequence for students that makes sense for them. They get to practice reading the exact words they were taught so they can feel SUPER successful! This reinforces great reading habits, fosters independence, and builds amazing confidence. It’s exactly what every classroom needs!
How to Use Them
Small group time is my favorite time to bring out the decodable readers. Not only can students practice with targeted readers for specific phonics skills they are working on, they can provide great differentiation tools for teachers. They are easy to fit in with your current curriculum because they are essentially a bonus supplement to any program you may be using. They are a tool to help support your students whether they are working on CVC words, vowel teams, digraphs, and so much more.
Students can highlight or search for words with a specific phonics pattern before reading for more practice. These stories can also help begin to build comprehension during after reading discussions. The best part is that once they practice these books with you during small group, students can keep them in their own bag to read repeatedly for fluency or send them home to practice with families.
The Ultimate Guide
Ready to jump in with decodable readers in your classroom?! This GROWING decodable readers bundle is just what you need! No matter what phonics skill you are targeting with your students, I’ve got just what you’re working on. Each decodable reader comes with a color or black and white option and with your purchase, any book that becomes available will be accessible to you for FREE! Grab this science of reading aligned bundle so you can support ALL your students!
Skills that will be covered:
Long Vowel CVCe Words
the growing bundle comes with bonus short a supplemental materials! Grab the GROWING Bundle HERE!
Want to try them out?! Grab this free decodable Short A reader set!
Love this FREE resource?
Remember that decodable readers are just one piece of the literacy puzzle for students. They can greatly support students learning to read with important targeted skills. It’s like teaching a student to ride a bike with training wheels. The readers give them the support they need to build important skills and practice in context.
I really hope you enjoyed learning about all the benefits of decodable readers! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the short a decodable reader FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how-to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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