What are decodable books, and why are they crucial for beginning readers? Unlike leveled books that may incorporate unfamiliar phonics patterns, decodable books emphasize specific phonetic patterns to help young learners decode words. While both types of books can be useful in literacy instruction, decodable books play a vital role in building a strong foundation in reading for early readers.
Decodable books often contain VC or CVC words and other simple word patterns at the beginning. They can build complexity as students advance. Books can also contain more variety as students have a broader base, but decodable books will highlight certain phonics patterns.
The key to choosing decodable books is to use books that contain phonics patterns students have learned. Your scope and sequence for your systematic synthetic phonics plan shows which letters/sounds to introduce and when. You match your decodable books with those sounds.
Why use decodable books
The main reason to use decodable books with beginning or struggling readers is because it helps them have reading success. By choosing books with grapheme-phoneme pairs that students have learned, they can use segmenting and blending skills to sound out words. In doing so, they begin to build fluency.
Students are often more independent reading decodable books. And because these books feel accessible to students, many find reading more enjoyable, which can motivate them to read more!
Get decodable VC and CVC books here.
For decodable books to work, choose quality decodable books. Look for:
- A grapheme–phoneme correspondence sequence that matches the scope and sequence used in your phonics instruction.
- Books that use correct grammar and punctuation.
- High usage of the target grapheme–phoneme correspondences. If the target phonics patterns do not appear frequently within the book, students will struggle more and gain less.
- The amount of text on the page progresses with the reader’s experience. Look for one sentence per page for beginning readers.
- Minimal use of words that students will have to guess at instead of decoding.
Remember, decodable books are just one kind of book to have in your classroom. You’ll also continue to read quality literature to students. This allows students to build their decoding skills and fluency while also hearing and learning new vocabulary, rhythm, and structure of writing.
Decodable books printable extension activities
Once students have finished reading decodable books, it’s important to continue engaging them with additional phonics practice. One effective way to reinforce their phonics skills is by using phonics mini books that encourage them to work with books in a fun and interactive way.
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Continue practice with CVC word activities. Keep matching grapheme-phoneme pairs what students have learned with printable mini books full of activities.
As students advance, you can continue practicing with Consonant Blends Mini Books and Consonant Digraph Mini Books. You can pair a decodable book from your collection with an activity mini book for classwork, in your literacy center, or for home practice.
Remember to match the books and mini books to where students are in your scope and sequence. This reinforces students’ ability to segment and blend sounds they know and builds on their reading success.
Go ahead and add decodable books and phonics mini books to your classroom today to help students unlock reading.