When I began teaching, I would get SO frustrated because my students could decode words in isolation.. but while reading? Not so much. That’s when I discovered the benefits of using decodable readers in Kindergarten and 1st grade.
When I began including decodable readers in both our guided reading groups and whole group phonics instruction, I quickly saw the benefits. Not only were my students increasing in reading fluency, but their confidence as readers was also growing!
What Are Decodable Readers?
So what are decodable books? Decodable readers are books that contain phonics-based text that is easily decodable by students. Generally, the text is based around 1-2 phonics skills. Any words that do not belong to that phonics skill are sight words or contain previously learned phonics patterns.
Decodable books and passages are available in a wide variety of levels. They can be more simple and patterned for beginning readers, or les patterned and complex for growing readers.
The less patterned and picture-supported a text is, the more decoding work a student will have to do. If a text is patterned and only has one decodable word on each page, I suggest having students practice segmenting and blending the words in isolation before reading.
Why Should You Be Using Decodable Readers?
In order to read fluently, strong readers will naturally decode unknown words as they read.
You probably do this every day without even thinking about it! When you come across a word you don’t know, you most likely read it the best you can. The way you read that word will be based on the phonics patterns and previous words your brain already knows.
Decoding is an important skill we need to teach students. When they come across unknown words, they need to be able to segment those words into chunks and blend them quickly.
Decodable readers are helpful because they allow our students to practice decoding in context. Students can begin with phonics skills that they have learned, which allows them to feel successful and grow in confidence.
The more students work with a phonics pattern, the less they will have to decode those words. As a student masters a phonics pattern, they can then move on to decodable readers that feature another phonics skill.
What About Leveled Readers?
While leveled texts are still beneficial for growing readers, they often feature words that are too hard for a student to decode.
That means that students have to use other means of figuring out what the word is, such as looking at the picture or using context. These things aren’t necessarily bad, but strong readers don’t rely on them. Once students get to higher level texts, they will be able to rely on these reading strategies less and less.
So does that mean you should throw out your leveled books?
This is only my opinion, but I say no! Leveled texts and decodable texts can be used in conjunction to build strong readers. Just know what skill or strategy you want to focus on and choose the type of book that will best support that skill.
Phonics Decodable Readers for Kindergarten and 1st Grade
I created these decodable readers to use with my own kindergarten students. These decodable books are phonics-based.
There are two different levels for each skill to allow you to differentiate. This means that your students can feel successful as readers, no matter their reading level.
The Level One books have very simple, patterned sentences. These books are perfect for level A/B readers.
In level one, there are 21 different word family readers. Each book allows you to focus on decoding CVC words in a single word family.
One suggestion is to have students find the word family words prior to reading and put a sticker, dot, or highlight them. That way they know this word is a decodable word when they come to it in the text.
There are also 15 short vowel readers, three for each vowel. These require a little more decoding because students will have to segment and blend three sounds rather than an onset and rime.
The Level Two texts have slightly more complex, less patterned sentences. They are still sight word-heavy, but they will require more decoding. These decodable books are perfect for level C/D students.
Level two has 20 different word family readers included. Some books have two word families to help the plot.
Level two has 18 short vowel readers, with 3-4 for each vowel. Personally, I enjoy the level two books because they are able to have a little more of a plot than level one.
Because these books have more of a plot, the level two books also have comprehension questions on the back of each book.
These questions are simple and text-based. Students can easily look back in the book to find the answers.
Phonics-Based Decodable Books for the Year
These decodable readers are perfect for both Kindergarten and 1st grade. That’s why I am so excited to offer these phonics-based decodable books in an ENDLESS growing bundle!
This decodable texts bundle will contain differentiated phonics-based decodable readers for a variety of phonics skills including:
- Word Families
- Short Vowels and CVC Words
- Digraphs and Blends
- CVCe Words
- Vowel Teams
- R-Controlled Vowels
Want to try out some level two FREE decodable readers? You can grab them below!