So … how do you feel about decodable books?
I admit it. I avoided them for a long time.
I felt that decodable books were boring, stilted, and would kill a love of reading.
I preferred to use leveled books with beginning readers. I thought that if I taught them multiple ways to solve words, their fluency and comprehension would be better than if they learned to read using decodable text.
But I changed my tune when I studied the science of reading.
Despite what I’d learned in graduate school, I discovered that our brains must connect the sounds to the letters when solving words. Having kids solve words by using the picture or context clues can actually teach bad habits for later on.
The good news is that there are some amazing decodable texts that are exactly what new readers need.
If you’re looking for the best decodable readers, you’re in the right place!
In this post I’ll share my favorite decodable books. I’ll also share some other choices that are not my favorite but are still popular with other teachers.
Finally, I’ll share some free decodable readers for those on a tight budget.
Favorite Decodable Books
Measured Mom Decodable Books
I’ll start with my own collection of printable books, because I think you’ll love these simple books for our earliest readers! I worked with a customer illustrator for a full year to complete set 1 – which follows my phonics scope and sequence and provides practice with consonants, short vowels, and simple digraphs.
You’re welcome to purchase each book in color and black and white, plus accompanying resources.
Each book will come with:
- a one-page lesson plan
- a dictation worksheet
- blending lines
- the text of the full book on a single page with just one picture
- a reading comprehension activity
Half-Pint Readers are fantastic for brand new readers. The books, created by a kindergarten teacher, are simple but engaging, and the books actually tell real stories with a problem and solution. The end of each book includes both simple and high level questions that build comprehension. Best of all, the books are affordable so you can easily purchase multiple copies.
Highly, highly recommended!
Great for: Level A is perfect for brand new readers who are just starting to sound out words. Level B introduces blends, digraphs, and simple word endings. Level C features long vowel sounds and more blends and word endings.
Price: Very affordable! Consider purchasing multiple sets for reading with small groups.
Pathways to Reading readers
What a great find these books are! Jenae Crowley has written beginner decodables that actually tell interesting stories, and Caitlyn Ellis has added engaging black-and-white illustrations.
In addition to the high quality stories, each book includes comprehension questions to ask before, during, and after the reading – PLUS a vocabulary lesson connected to the text.
I also love, love, love the “I Read/You Read” books (see the one poking out above). Kids read the simple decodable text on the top, and adults build background knowledge by reading the connected text below. (Update: The I Read/ You Read books are now in full color!)
As I write this, both the first and second sets are complete. I really think these sets are a must-own for anyone building up a decodable library for kids just getting started with reading.
Great for: Brand new readers in kindergarten and first grade
Price: Crazy affordable! The first set of 14 books is just $19.99. The second set of 15 books (for first grade) is just $22.99.
Just Right Reader
I was delighted to get my hands on these decodables! These books feature funny stories and diverse characters within the pages of sturdy little books. I love how the author includes teaching tips in each book, as well as a page with the target phonics skill, decodable words within the book, and the featured high frequency words.
Best of all, many of the books are available as free flipbooks online so you can try them for yourself!
Great for: Readers in kindergarten, first and second grade
Price: As I write this, the books are $5.75 when purchased individually. This will quickly add up, but in my view these books are gems and worth every penny. Definitely check out the e-library so you can see for yourself! (And when you’re putting together a wish list for new decodables, put these at the top!)
P.S. I also recommend Just Right Reader’s Take-Home decodable book packs. Districts are ordering packs for every student … what a great way to eliminate the reading summer slide!
I recently received a sample of decodable books from Read Bright along with curriculum materials. I was very impressed! The books are sturdy, beautifully illustrated, and tell interesting stories even with a limited number of phonics patterns. While you can certainly purchase the decodable books alone, you can also purchase accompanying workbooks, mnemonic alphabet posters, a fluency booklet, dictation pages, and more. All of it is brightly colored and clearly based on research. Read Bright is definitely worth checking out!
Great for: Teachers and homeschoolers who need a quality phonics program with decodable books (and, optionally, student workbooks)
Price: The books cost about $5 each when purchased as part of the Level 1, 2, or 3 sets.
Reading for All Learners
We used the I See Sam books (Set 1) a lot when my little guy was first starting to read words. They start very, very slowly … gradually adding letters and sounds, and with very few words on each page.
The stories would not make sense without the (wonderful) pictures, because the text can feel rather stilted. “See Sis sit in it. See me. See me sit in it.” I can overlook the stilted language, though, because the pictures allow for wonderful discussion, and they truly are adorable.
Great for: Set 1 is perfect for brand new readers, but with six sets that get progressively more difficult (and 141 total books), you can go a long way with these.
Price: Very affordable! Go even less expensive and get the black and white editions.
If decodable books have a bad name, Whole Phonics will redeem it. The stories are creative and funny, and the pictures are the best I’ve seen. My only issue is that the verb tenses often switch (a pet peeve of mine), but the stories are so good I can overlook it.
The books are on the longer side, so you may want to start with a simpler set or read a book in more than one sitting. (Update: Whole Phonics now includes a simpler set of books for beginners!)
Great for: Older struggling readers and kids who are past the very beginning stage (but still learning to sound out words).
Price: These are high quality books with a price to match (around $5 a book). Keep in mind, though, that these are full color, well-developed stories and worth every penny.
Flyleaf Decodable Books
These are almost the loveliest, highest quality decodable texts that we own (see below). They are also on the expensive side, but definitely worth a purchase. The books advance rather quickly, and there aren’t a lot of books for each pattern, but you will love having them in your collection.
Great for: Kids who are advancing quickly. The books are incredible, but there are only a few for each stage.
Price: These are high quality books and priced accordingly, at about $4 a book. (When you think about it, that’s still a great price, but you need so many decodable books for beginning readers … and the cost adds up fast.)
I am still a big fan of Flyleaf, but when I received a sample of Geodes, Flyfleaf lost its place as our most beautiful decodables. Geodes are truly lovely, incredible books. I could hardly wait to read them when I opened the box.
It’s rare that you find decodable books that actually impart knowledge, but Geodes has mastered this. The books have decodable text, fantastic illustrations or photographs, AND huge opportunities for building vocabulary, comprehension, and general knowledge.
I couldn’t love this line from their brochure more: “Learning to read while reading to learn.”
Also, Geodes “are built on best practices of traditional decodables but without sacrificing highly engaging stories and deep rewarding knowledge of history, science and the arts.”
Important to note: The books are about 80-85% decodable and occasionally include words that are not yet decodable for the reader. I think this is a very worthy sacrifice for readability and knowledge-building.
Great for: Building knowledge AND reading skills for kids in K-2. You’ll be blown away by the incredible variety in these (mostly) nonfiction books. Each book also comes with an incredible teacher’s guide with ideas and questions for building vocabulary and comprehension.
If you use Wilson Fundations, I would say that Geodes are a must-own, since they align perfectly with the scope and sequence (and even explain exactly where they fall in the sequence on back left corner of each book).
Price: This would be my only issue; Geodes’ website doesn’t list price information. We can assume their books are priced according to their quality. That said, if your school has the budget for building a large decodable library, GEODES IS WHERE IT’S AT. These books aren’t just decodable; they’re quality, authentic literature that you could even feel good about using as read-alouds.
If you’re interested in purchasing Geodes for their school or district you can visit the website and take a look at the digital previews (the link is halfway down the page, but this link directs you straight there). There’s a form on the digital previews page that will connect you with a rep to purchase a set.
This is a wonderful series of 120 books. I love that even the simplest stories have interesting plot lines. The books slowly advance, adding new phonics skills through six levels.
The illustrations are black and white, but they are still engaging.
Great for: Both brand-new readers and kids moving at a faster pace
Price: The books are just under $4 a book, which feels a little pricy for black-and-white readers. But the stories are high quality, so I think it’s worth it.
The Alphabet Series
This is another high quality series that slowly adds new sound-spelling correspondences with each book. Don’t let the black and white interior illustrations fool you … these are interesting stories with funny pictures.
Absolutely one to own, and a great choice for small group lessons!
Great for: Both brand-new readers and kids moving at a faster pace
Price: The price varies, but I was able to find them for about $3 a book (linked below).
These are a favorite of many reading teachers. For the first books, kids only need to know a handful of letter sounds. The books have a unique illustration style (photographed backgrounds with cartoons drawn on top). The early books are very, very short — making them a great choice for brand new readers.
Best for: All levels! The early books are ideal for brand new readers, but PhonicBooks has a variety of series, including books for struggling readers up to 14 years old!
Price: The Dandelion Launchers (pictured above) are sturdy, full-color books for about $3 each.
Susan M. Ebbers’ power readers are incredibly affordable because they are made of thin paper and are meant to be disposable. That’s because the front of each book includes (quality) worksheet-type activities that students can do to prepare them for reading. Even more activities are in the back, including comprehension questions.
Great for: Teaching beginning readers in small reading groups (Before and after reading activities are built right into the books!)
Price: Since these are flimsy, write-in books, they are just over $1.50 each.
Full disclosure! I did not expect to like these books. I am not a fan of the Comic Sans font, and the illustrations are much less professional than other books I’ve reviewed.
But when I got my hands on them, I fell in love very quickly. These books are very sturdy with thick pages. I love that the text is nice and big, on the left side of the page. Each book has quite a few pages, and the best part is that they tell good stories that make sense. My little guy certainly didn’t notice that the pictures are less professional. He laughed at them and loved that he could find the little fly on each page. These are on the pricier side, but worth it.
Junior Learning decodable books
If you’re looking for variety at a great price, Junior Learning books are for you. I haven’t seen any other series which such a huge selection. The illustrations or photos are quality, and the books are solid and sturdy.
One thing to note that the quality of the stories varies. Some of the earliest books aren’t my favorite; the stories themselves are so bizarre and contrived that it was impossible to have a good conversation about them afterward. But don’t let this be a reason to avoid the books. As kids gain more phonics knowledge, the stories become much more readable and interesting (see the book about camels above). It’s worth repeating … you cannot beat Junior Learning’s huge selection.
Great for: Beginning readers and learners with advancing skills; you’ll love the variety of fiction and nonfiction
Price: Extremely affordable, making these great for use in small groups; you can often get them for around $2 a book. A good thing, since in the earliest sets there may be several books with such odd storylines that you won’t want to use then.
SyllaSense is one of the new kids on the decodable books block, and it’s a welcome addition! As of this writing you can get two levels of SyllaSense books. The first level focus on closed syllable words (such as CVC words and words with blends and digraphs). The second level includes words with the CVCE pattern and more.
Here’s what I really appreciate about SyllaSense … the author, Lee-Ann Lear, includes common words endings early on. So often, decodable book authors are afraid to add “ed” and other suffixes, and use stilted language (such as “he did jump”) to make the books 100% decodable at this point in the reader’s journey.
Decodability is important, but we shouldn’t sacrifice sensibility for it. I’m so glad to see a series that doesn’t!
SyllaSense books include longer words earlier than you might expect, with a variety of prefixes and suffixes even for beginning readers. I’m excited to see more from SyllaSense!
Price: Affordable, and easy to purchase as single books or in class sets
Dash Into Learning
This series definitely wins the prize for the most charming illustrations! The pictures have a vintage feel to them, which I love. (And yet, unlike many true vintage books, the pictures feature diverse characters.)
Each book begins with a blending lesson which doesn’t quite align with how I would approach blending, but it’s certainly a valid approach.
Parents will appreciate the how-to guide for the books, but beware of insistence that sight words must be memorized. Children benefit from analyzing the sounds of “sight words” and learning only the irregular part of the word by heart.
These are sweet, engaging stories, and it’s definitely a series worth checking out. You’ll love exploring the shop, as Dash into Learning also sells stickers and wooden dolls that go with their books.
Price: About $6 per sturdy book
Charge Into Reading
These are brand new (2022-2023) decodable readers from author Brooke Vitale. I love that each book comes with 8 pages of vowel specific literacy activities, which include decoding, spelling, and phonemic awareness work. The series follows a quality scope and sequence, but blends and digraphs are included in the short vowel set to allow for quality story-telling. Personally, I would start with a different series and add this one after you’ve taught blends and digraphs.
The books are still being written; currently the author has books with digraphs and blends as well as CVCE words. The stories can be a bit odd, with some unusual vocabulary – so you’ll definitely want to preteach some vocabulary. The books are reasonably priced at $4.00 each.
The Frog Series
The Frog series is a 8-book collection of both fiction and nonfiction decodables from Heggerty, a solid company you may know from their popular phonemic awareness curriculum.
These are high quality books (which makes their pricing at just $5 a book a pleasant surprise) that feel like real books, not decodables.
These are sweet stories with a variety of characters, but I don’t recommend them for our earliest readers. The books contain quite a few words that aren’t yet decodable. This doesn’t have to be an issue, but we want students to have established the habit of sounding out first, before using picture and context for support.
I can see these being an excellent choice for advanced early readers.
Dog on a Log Books
These are systematic, decodable books using an Orton-Gillingham based scope and sequence. Unlike many other books reviewed here, many Dog on a Log books are printed in a chapter book format. The books have a limited number of odd, black-and-white pictures accompanied by large text.
These are not my personal favorites because I don’t find the stories particularly interesting (nor do I like the pictures), but I believe it’s because I don’t have the experience of parenting a child with dyslexia, nor have I ever struggled when learning to read. Children appreciate that these don’t feel like baby books; while the chapter books have large print, they’re quite fat and feel like “real” books.
I should also note that the early books have extremely helpful tips for parents in the front of the book, and they even include instructions for tapping sounds and teaching letter formation. The books include word lists and sentences for students to read as a warm-up before reading the actual story.
Great for: Older struggling readers, particularly those with dyslexia; excellent for parents who need materials to help struggling readers
Price: Very reasonable
Other Decodable Books
Jelly and Bean books are from the UK and look amazing! I haven’t gotten my hands on them, but I’d love to. I’m impressed by the samples on the website.
Primary Phonics are vintage decodable books that are quite popular. I actually purchased the full set and returned them after previewing them. The stories were strange and hard to follow, and because the books are almost 100% decodable, the stories are very stilted. I appear to be in the minority, however; many people love these books.
BOB Books are another popular choice, likely because they are so affordable and so easy to find. I don’t care for the stilted language (“He did get it”), and the illustrations leave much to be desired. But they will do the job.
Check out Little Learners & DSF Decodable Readers from Australia. The stories themselves are set in regional Australia and look wonderful.
Little Learners Love Literacy are decodable books from Australia. I haven’t used them, but they look fantastic … such great pictures!
Sunshine Decodable books are from New Zealand and look wonderful; I’ve heard great things.
Spalding has a variety of decodable books that look promising.
High Noon offers decodable books that are appealing to older learners.
Treetops Educational Interventions has a large and growing set of printable decodable books that follow their OG sequence. You’ll appreciate that each book lists the letters/patterns students should be familiar with as well as the high frequency words included in each book. Each book also includes comprehension questions.
Also check out Darling Idea’s printable decodable books on Teachers Pay Teachers, which were created to align with the Orton-Gillingham approach.
Reading A to Z is mainly a source for leveled books, but they do have a decent decodable section.
Simple Words offers decodable chapter books.
Ed and Mel’s Decodable Adventures are another option for decodable chapter books.
SuperBooks are vintage decodable books that have a special charm. The stories are often interesting, though the text can feel stilted. You cannot beat the price; these are sturdy, full-color books for just over $1 a piece.
Bug books are short vowel decodable books that you can purchase.
If you’re looking for high quality decodable chapter books, the ones from Heggerty look great.
Free decodable books
SPELD SA (in Australia) has a huge set of free decodable books that you can print or read on a screen using Powerpoint. You can get their older free decodable books here.
Core Knowledge has free decodable readers that you can read online. They’re absolutely lovely! You do need to do a little digging to find them.
You can get free Measured Mom Nonfiction Decodables right here on this website. Just click here to view and download.
You can also check out my decodable books that feature high frequency words. Each free book comes with a lesson that explicitly teaches a high frequency word. Find them here.
Starfall has free decodable books that you can print. (You can also purchase full-color editions.)
Have you seen our short vowel decodable passages?
Decodable Passages: CVC Words
This affordable set features 23 passages to help new readers develop fluency with CVC words. Each page includes blending practice, a short reading passage, a comprehension question, and spelling practice.
Hi, I noticed you mentioned the heggerty books, but just a quick blurb. Any chance you’ve been able to try it out since this post?
Our grade level (3rd) has some money earmarked for decodables – phonics books and heggerty seem to be the front runners. I love the variety and sci-fi/fantasy of phonics books while heggerty seems to be only a set of 6 books and the pictures seem a bit more juvenile. However, I have no first hand experience with either. Thanks for such a thorough review of so many resources!
I don’t personally recommend the Heggerty decodables because there aren’t many of them, and they aren’t highly decodable. Others on this list will give you more of a variety!
Are there any decodable books which come with the audio?
I would guess there are some, but I’m sorry that I don’t know of any!
I would absolutely love it if you someday add audio. It does not make sense to me that the decodable books which supposed to teach children how to read do not come with audio. I’ve seen some decodable books from Australia come with audio and I hope that the books from the U.S will do the same. This will definitely benefit many ELL learners and kids with dyslexia. Thank you again for your effort! What a lovely list! My students enjoy your sight words books :}
You can certainly reach out to these authors and see if they will provide this! If a member of my membership asks for that, I will consider adding audio to the membership for my own decodable books. But most of the books on this list were not created by me. 🙂
Thank you, Anna, for this comprehensive list! It will take me a while to go through to pick the decodables that will work best for my situation, but I love that I have such a big choice. I appreciate all you do! Thanks again!
Heather Groth, Customer Support
We’re so glad that we can help you narrow it down, Terri!
There’s a few others you might be interested in looking at ProgressivePhonics.com books. They are designed so that a parent or teacher reads with a child. The words the child reads are color coded (red for new words, blue for already covered words). The black words are read by an adult. There is also instructions for parents on the phonics concepts covered, to read to the child. I think these are great for the beginning stages because the child can listen when not reading and really understand the story. As a tutor these have worked with many resistant readers and short attention span kids, and they are great for kids with low reading stamina (cause we can get a lot of targeted practice before they wear out, since the parts I read give them a rest.)
Note, I don’t really like the Alphabetti books because they don’t capitalize names but from the beginning readers on through intermediate I’ve loved these, though I do find that readers past 1st grade start to find them babyish.
I also just found
Heather Groth, Customer Support
Thank you so much for sharing these recommendations with our readers!
Hey Anna, do you any thoughts on Phonic Books? They are pretty popular in the UK, but I think you can also get US/Canada editions.
Heather Groth, Customer Support
Yes! You can find Anna’s review on PhonicBooks listed up above! It’s the eleventh series featured in the post.
Seriously?These books are meant to prove that decodable books are worthwhile? I’m fully into the idea of teaching kids to decode words, but seriously, what on earth does
“I quit dot socks. No dot socks for me. I like hot socks.” mean? That’s not even proper english!! It’s like some nonsense rhyme that we somehow expect kids to engage in. Just write books using normal words in nornal sentences talking about things that children have actually heard of before (ie not abs!!)
For years I was not always a decodable book fan. I get your frustration, and teachers should be judicious about choosing the better books. But you need to remember that decodable books are inauthentic literature on purpose – because their goal isn’t to expose kids to great works of literature (that’s where read alouds come in at this stage). Their goal is to promote orthographic mapping. These books are training wheels – they are for beginners to use for a limited time until they have the phonics. knowledge to read authentic literature. The alternative is that they read books with words they don’t yet have the knowledge to sound out. If they don’t know how to sound out the words, how are they going to read them? This is an honest question – what are your thoughts?
We tried out the Miss Moss decodable chapter books and they have been good so far. They are perfect for my daughter who has worked through vowel consonant e syllables (she is at the end of book 4 of Wilson). Has anyone else tried them?
Hi Edie! Yes I just ordered one of each of the 3 books. If you click on the covers, Amazon lets you preview quite a few pages before you buy. They look great to me!
Love the Decodable Books Set 1! Any idea when Set 2 will be available? Wondering if they will address vowel patterns??? Thank you!!!
Heather Groth, Customer Support
Great questions, Laurie! Set 2 will be available in the late fall and will include floss rule, simple compound words, blends, and ng/nk endings. Anna is planning on a set with vowel teams, but it won’t be available until next year.
Hi , Awesome collection. And I have tried 5 of your decodable books. I loved them 🙂 thank you for these resources. I liked the books from Oxford learning tree – Julia Donaldson Songbirds collection. I have just ordered for stage 1 . But there are 5 more stages. My daughter is 4 1/2. She is being thought CVC and sight words in schools. Please suggest on this, what is your opinion on Songbirds collection.
I’m so sorry – I haven’t been able to get my hands on these. But the samples I was able to see online looked very promising!
Thank you 🙂 I liked the stories in it which is very engaging for the kids to read.
Heather Groth, Customer Support
This is good to know, JJ! Thank you for sharing!
Awesome information, Anna! Thanks so much!
Heather Groth, Customer Support
You’re welcome, Ingrid!
I am an art teacher and am in the process of creating decodable books for new abd struggling readers. The first set is almost complete. It will have 13 books in this set If you are interested please check out Unlockreadingbooks.com
Thank you Anna for the wonderful list of decodable books! The Half Pint Readers look like an amazing resource, but Im curious, on the website they mention being a phonics program. Would this be considered a complete phonics program or just a supplemental tool? Im looking for
a good phonics program for my grandson entering kindergarten next year (homeschool) and I was hoping you could recommend something if the Half Pint readers weren’t intended to be a complete
Thank you for your labor of love! I would feel lost without all your wisdom and insight 🙂
Hi Kimberly! I love the books, but I haven’t used the program. I would definitely reach out to Half Pint Readers and share your question. I’m pretty sure the creator is a former kindergarten teacher, so she should definitely be able to help you out!
I am looking for non-fiction decodables for grade 1 and 2.
I have a small collection of free ones here: https://www.themeasuredmom.com/decodable-nonfiction-readers/ Also check out Geodes and Flyleaf!
I am in the UK and love the “Jelly and Bean” books.
Thank you, Carol, they look amazing! I added them to the list.
I also use Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc books. The simplest set I have are the Green Books which are too difficult for beginners but they are good for readers who know some blends and digraphs. They have a “Speed Sounds” and blending practice at the front of the book, as well as a list of “Red Words” – words in the story which are not decodable. There is also a vocabulary check and a book introduction. At the back, they have comprehension questions and “Speed Words” for extra practice. There are fiction and nonfiction books.
Hi to the Measured Mom team and followers.
You may all be interested in the new free Phonic Readers from SPELD SA in South Australia. There are two versions available, the PowerPoint version have sound buttons when opened in PowerPoint and 100 titles https://www.speldsa.org.au/SPELD-SA-Phonic-Readers-New-Series
And our old free series of decodable readers has many versions and worksheets https://www.speldsa.org.au/speld-phonic-books
There are many more free resources on the site for those who are looking for more. Including SOS Spelling for Older Students and an Intensive Literacy program.
We often show both parents and teachers your resources. So thanks Measured Mom
Thank you so much for sharing, Sandy! I’ve added them to the list.
Thanks Anna, appreciated.
I concur with all the recommendations for SPELD books. I teach a class of mixed 2nd-language English speakers, and this series has been wonderful for building their self-confidence & eagerness to read. A really great series!
Simple Words Books are fantastic for older kids. My profoundly dyslexic 8 year old’s confidence has SOARED since reading his first chapter book. The website has a list of every single word in the books, so you can look and see if your early reader is ready. The Gold of Black Rock Hill is the current favorite.
whoops, I see you’ve got them listed in your Other Decodable books section.
Thanks so much for sharing how much the Simple Word Books have helped your son, KT! This is fantastic to hear!
I can highly recommend the Little Learners Love Literacy books. They follow an excellent sequence and don’t progress too quickly. They follow the same family and their friends throughout. Lots of humour and colourful illustrations. I also love the Sunshine decodables. I’m in New Zealand and the illustrations reflect Pasifika children. The Australian version has illustrations reflecting Caucasian children. The first three sets follow the same family of characters.
This list is such a great resource, thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful review. I wonder if anyone who has used any of these has information or thoughts about the level of cultural/ethnic inclusion in the books. It’s something I want to take into consideration when evaluating and buying new materials.
In Australia – here are two options
Thank you, Wendy – I’ve added them to the list!
Decodable books Australia have books that are also available on iPad app
SPELD SA Australia has free download decodable books.
We purchased the Geodes decodable readers this year and they are amazing – great artwork and a lot of engaging nonfiction topics. They are quite pricey but if you are able to write a grant or persuade your school to make the purchase they are well worth it.
I googled Geodes readers and am having a difficult time seeing the text inside of their books. Were you able to find a good resource to look at before purchasing to see if they would meet your needs? Thank you.
PAMELA J CLARK TURNER
What’s your thoughts on BOB Books?
You can find my opinion under “Other Decodable Books.” 🙂
I myself think they are a great start for building confidence. As a mom with admittedly zero training in education, I’ve been pretty happy with them. My quick learner out grew them fast, but the “stilted” language (and brevity) in the Bob Books was helpful to get my more insecure learner going again after he got “lost” in public school The art is, as Anna states, lacking, but it doesn’t stop my daughters (5&6) from sneaking them down to read through them again. I taught my now 5 yo almost entirely on these, followed by the measured mom sight word readers (which she’s taking down <>) and phonics readers, and she now confidently reads well beyond Kindergarten level in her spare time. I don’t have a lot to compare them too(aside from various hand me downs including leveled readers, world books, and first little readers— all of which were frustrating to start off with), but after these and the sight words, I can set my kid’ free with about anything they find interesting, and they figure it out. They’ve made it through 4 kids and should make it through the last 2. I will say the order is confusing. It appears they made a few levels, then went back and filled in the gaps with a later generation. My preferred order to teach them (of what I have) is collection 1, then 6, then 2, then the sight word s (K/1st), then collection 3. Still, I think everyone should grab the measured mom sight word books if they are still up and pair them with some sight word worksheets.
The Institute of Multi-Sensory Education has a nice set of Decodables you can buy and download.
Jolly Phonics has decodable texts that follow the JP scope and sequence. Heggerty is planning to release decodable texts soon as well – I’m excited to see these.
Thanks, Stacey! I ordered the Jolly Phonics books but I didn’t care for them. Maybe I ordered the wrong set? They didn’t seem to follow a scope and sequence that made sense to me. I’m excited about Heggerty’s books, too; although it looks like they are starting with a higher level and not books for beginners.
Yes, the JP scope and sequence teaches several digraphs – ai, oa, ie, ee, or, ng and oo – before all the single letter sounds have been taught. They also teach letter sounds before letter names. I have used this scheme for phonics teaching but I found it very confusing.
Well that explains it then! I was really confused by the books I received. Thanks, Carol!
ch, sh, th, qu, ou, oi, ue, er and ar are also included in the “basic code” so any of these sounds might appear in the first level of books. I think the idea was to give children one way of spelling each of 42 sounds as quickly as possible so that children could write independently as soon as possible. (Forgetting – or not realising? – that one way of representing the long vowel sounds is simply by the vowels themselves! I think ai, ee, ie, oa and ue are some of the least common spelling patterns for the long vowel sounds.)
The idea is to give a spelling for each sound that is unique to that sound, so they can avoid overlap in the code at the beginning. They are not the least common ways to spell the long vowel sounds, but they aren’t the most common either. The main thing is they they are the most consistently used for those phonemes, but aren’t used to represent other sounds.
‘ai’ is the 3rd most common spelling for /ay/ (after ‘a_e’ and ‘a’)(tied with ‘ay’)
‘ee’ is the 3rd most common spelling of /ee/ (after ‘e’ and ‘y’)(tied with ea)
‘ie’ is the 5th most common spelling of /igh/ (after ‘i’, ‘i_e’, ‘y’, and ‘igh’)
‘oa’ is the 4th most common spelling of /oa/ (after ‘o’, ‘o_e’, and ‘ow’)
‘ue’ is the 4th most common spelling of /y-ue/ (after ‘u’, ‘u_e’, and ‘ew’)
Thank you for this explanation, Julia! It’s good to understand why they chose those spellings!
Heather Groth, Customer Support
We’re happy to have you here again, Heather! You may also find this list of leveled books helpful for your daughter, https://www.themeasuredmom.com/leveled-books-you-can-find-at-your-library-with-a-printable-leveled-book-list/. We wish you and your daughter all the best at this exciting stage of learning to read books!
I’m currently studying the Science of Reading and may make some updates to my site in the early spring.
This is Kate, Anna’s assistant. You will find assembly instructions for Anna’s phonics readers in the post for set 1: https://www.themeasuredmom.com/learn-read-word-families-free-books/
Hope this helps!
Sounds like you have a wonderful plan in place! I agree that the leveled books in libraries and bookstores aren’t usually appropriate for our youngest readers. Reading A-Z and Progressive Phonics are two wonderful resources!
I would not define it that way, Jane, but I’m afraid I cannot continue a pedagogical debate with you. My time is limited, and I have to focus it on caring for my five children and maintaining this site. I very much respect your opinion and appreciate your thoughts.
Thanks so much for that link, Dawn! In the next couple months I hope to put together a more detailed post of decodable books for all the short vowels — I’ll be sure to reference the site you shared with me.
Hi Katie! Yes, I do plan to do the other vowels… but it won’t happen as quickly as I’d like. Just not enough time in a day! Currently I’m starting to create the word family printables for short i… and when those are done and shared I’ll create another post like this one for that vowel. Moving all the way through — I’d love to be done with all the short vowels by the end of the school year. But a lot depends on what kid of temperament our new baby brings to the mix! Am trying to be real productive before January 🙂
I’m so glad you can use them, Deirdre! Thanks for stopping in!
Hello Fathima – thanks for that recommendation! I have heard about that website from my sister-in-law. Is it all online learning? I guess I’m old fashioned because I prefer my kids to have very little time on the computer. My daughter in particular gets very moody and demanding after too much time on the iPad. But I’m glad it’s worked for so many people!
I’m from Australia too and was going to suggest reading eggs! It’s awesome. They also have free sight word apps for iphone and android.
Hi Sarah — I have heard that it’s great! I guess I’m old fashioned though, because I prefer to do learning apart from the computer whenever possible. I’m glad it’s worked for so many people, though!
Kristina, they are almost impossible to find at the library or book stores. However, Reading A to Z is a PHENOMENAL website and such a fantastic deal ($90 / year for unlimited downloads) ! http://www.readinga-z.com/books/leveled-books/ I recommend that as a starting point. You will probably not need more than that, but another place to look is the Ohio State KEEP Books – I bought a parent set. These are actually written by Gay Su Pinnell and others at the school. Very affordable to buy as individual books. If you buy through the big names like The Wright Group, you can expect to pay at least $4 per book. That adds up way too fast!
For decodable stories with PROPER stories, which follow the story grammar structure with funny characters and quirky plots, go to SmartKids and order the Pocket Rockets stories. They have a story for all 44 phonemes and kids love them! There are no tricks where children have to resort to inaccurate guessing. No boring repetitive phrases where some kids just look at the ceiling and say the words. They can REALLY READ using their phonic skills to decipher new words (which is what SKILLED readers do and shouldn’t we be teaching them the skills of SKILLED readers not defective readers?) and as they decipher the words then they can use their lovely comprehension skills to access the meaning. Their spelling skills will really improve as well!
There’s an app as well for the first 18 stories available on all devices-Learn to Read Pocket Rockets
Jane, I have to disagree that teaching kids to read words by what makes sense or sounds right is teaching them to be defective readers. As I stated above, good readers use a combination of cueing systems to read. Phonics is just one part. I do agree, however, that phonics is an important part, and I appreciate learning about the Pocket Rockets stories. In the future I plan to write another post about where to find phonetic readers for all the vowels. I will need to check these out so I can include them in my list. Thank you for the recommendation!
Thank you for your comments Anna, but the scientific consensus on learning to read shows that the “whole language approach which incorporates the “cueing systems” is inefficient. The work of neuro-psychologists, who have carefully accumulated their scientific knowledge using brain imaging and a great many classroom experiments has clearly shown that all children have similar brains. Their cerebral circuits are well tuned to systematic grapheme-phoneme correspondences and they have everything to gain from phonics which is the only method which will give them the freedom to accurately read any text.
You state that, “Decodable readers are very useful for building up phonics skills, but if they are used in isolation, children do not learn to correct for meaning or syntax.” Are you saying that ‘decodable texts (which in effect are just texts containing the parts of the code already learnt) have no meaning or syntax? After all, ‘the cat sat on the mat” is decodable for a beginning reader AND has meaning and syntax as does any sentence with the words in the correct order.
You also say that levelled readers contain “a lot of longer words that children may not be able to read in isolation but can read with picture and meaning cues.” This is guessing and extensive research has shown that only defective readers use these methods. Looking at a picture or coming at a word by what might sound right is NOT reading! When you come across an unfamiliar word I’ll bet that you sound it out. How could you guess a word if you’ve never seen it before??? Your meaning ‘cues’ WILL come into play however once you’ve sounded out the word. You will then try to use the context of the text to arrive at the MEANING of the word.
I hope you will consider what I’ve said because I can see from your website that you are passionate about helping parents and I hate to see you giving inaccurate and outdated information.
I suggest you read Stansilas Dehaene “Reading in the Brain” for more information or Elaine McEwan’s (an American principal) “Teach Them All to Read” which clearly explains why the ‘cueing system’ philosophy is just plain wrong.
YES! YES! YES!
I agree 100% with Jane. My first child is in K and I have been shocked that balanced literacy tells children to use ‘picture power’ to read. THAT’S NOT READING! It’s a shame too because now all the major publishers are gearing there books towards leveled reading.
I stand behind my balanced approach to literacy, but I appreciate your input. Thank you for the book recommendations!
But what evidence do you have to support your balanced approach? There is an overwhelming amount of evidence in favour of teaching children to read by explicitly instructing them in the Alphabetic Code and principles and then providing them with texts that match their alphabetic knowledge and decoding skills. This frees them up to concentrate on the meaning of the text without having to waste valuable time and brain space making guesses on words outside their phonic knowledge.
Thankfully, Jane, I offer countless phonics resources on my site. Just because I promote a balanced approach does not mean I don’t give fair time to each component.