Are Decodables Only for Beginning Readers?

Decodable books, stories, and passages are texts that the author limits the word choice to include an abundance of the pattern currently taught, as well as exclude patterns that have not yet been taught. The goal of a decodable text is to promote repeated phoneme-grapheme correspondence in the brain, as we know that this is one of the skills needed to store words in the brain’s longterm storage (via orthographic mapping). A common misconception is that there is no use for decodables past the very early grades. Until a student is a fully competent decoder, decodable texts are still beneficial. Here is an example: Jonah is in second grade. Learning to read has been challening for him, but Jonah is making progress with short vowel patterns and gaining fluency with words, phrases, and sentences. Jonah is now learning the vowel-consonant-e syllable type (or magic e), and this is proving to be difficult for him as his brain wants to say the short vowel sound instead of the long. Jonah would benefit from reading various decodable texts that target the vowel-consonant-e pattern. For some students, their acquisition of the various orthographic features of our language may come somewhat swiftly with anywhere from 1-4 exposures. The reality is that most students will need somewhere between 5-20 exposures to a pattern before their brain recognizes it automatically. Decodable texts provide the needed practice and exposures for growing readers, at any age!


  • Ehri, L. C. (1998). Grapheme-phoneme knowledge is essential to learning to read words in English. In J. L. Metsala & L. C. Ehri (Eds.), Word recognition in beginning literacy (p. 3–40). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
  • Ehri, L.C. (2014) Orthographic mapping in the acquisition of sight word reading, spelling memory, and vocabulary learning. Scientific Studies of Reading 18(1).
Decodable books in the classroom

Explicit Phonics: How to Use Decodables

Ready Reader Decodables for Small Groups

Ready Reader Decodables are a valuable resource for implementing individualized, systematic, and explicit reading instruction in a small group setting. They are specifically designed to support early readers in developing their decoding skills, fluency, and comprehension abilities. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively use Ready Reader Decodables with your students!

1. Assess and group students:

Begin by assessing students’ reading abilities to identify their instructional needs. Group students together with similar reading needs to ensure targeted instruction and maximize their progress.

2. Select appropriate decodable texts:

Align your students’ needs with the specific phonics patterns in the Ready Reader Decodables books.  Our books gradually increase in complexity. Ready Reader Decodables include TWO stories for each phonics skill to provide layers of differentiation for your students. 

3. Introduce the text:

Before reading the decodable text, introduce it to the students. Preview the cover, title, and pictures, and engage students in a brief discussion to activate their prior knowledge and build anticipation for the reading. This step helps set the purpose for reading and generates interest.

4. Pre-teach unfamiliar words or concepts:

Identify any unfamiliar words or concepts in the text that students may not know. Each book includes a list of high frequency words in the story.  Pre-teach these words or concepts to ensure students have the necessary background knowledge to understand the text.

5. Focus on decoding skills:

Ready Reader Decodables are designed to help students practice their word recognition skills. Guide students through the text, providing explicit instruction on phonics patterns, letter-sound relationships, blending, and segmenting syllables. Encourage students to use decoding strategies, such as sounding out or chunking instead of guessing or relying on picture clues.

6. Build fluency:

Reading fluency is an important component of comprehension. Help students develop fluency by modeling fluent reading and providing opportunities for repeated reading of the decodable text. Encourage students to read the text multiple times, individually or in chorus, to improve their accuracy, prosody, and expression.

7. Promote comprehension:

While decodable texts primarily focus on decoding skills, it’s crucial to also address comprehension. Engage students in discussions about the text, asking questions to check their understanding and encourage critical thinking. Make connections to their prior knowledge and real-life experiences to deepen comprehension.

Ready Reader Decodables Comprehension Questions

8. Provide individualized support:

In a small group setting, it is vital to provide individualized support to each student. Observe each student’s reading behaviors closely and provide immediate feedback, guidance, and corrective instruction as needed. Address specific challenges or errors your student encounters and offer strategies to address them.

9. Monitor progress:

Continuously monitor students’ progress and adjust instruction accordingly. Keep records of their reading achievements, note areas of improvement, and identify areas that require additional practice or intervention. Regularly reassess students’ reading abilities to guide their instructional path.

By following these steps and utilizing Ready Reader Decodables effectively, you can create an individualized, systematic, and explicit approach to reading instruction in a small group setting. This approach ensures that students receive targeted support and practice to develop their reading skills, leading to improved decoding, fluency, and comprehension abilities.

Ready Reader Decodables- ck books Level 1 and Level 2

Decodables: More Than Just Phonics

Decodables: More Than Just Phonics

As experts in literacy instruction and long-time advocates for evidence-based practices, the authors of Ready Reader Decodables are often asked how to meet the needs of all early readers. This is a question that has garnered much attention and debate over the years.  The science of reading tells us how ALL brains learn to read and our two levels of books for each phonics skill help students attend to all strands of the reading rope. 

It is important to recognize that all students have different needs and abilities when it comes to learning to read. Some students may struggle with phonemic awareness or decoding skills, some struggle with vocabulary and background knowledge, while others may have difficulty with sight word recognition. Therefore, it is important for educators to provide a range of Structured Literacy reading materials that cater to each student’s individual needs.

Decodables: Adapting for Students’ Needs

Decodable texts are a crucial component of this early literacy instruction. These types of texts provide students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge of phonics in a meaningful context. However, as students progress in their reading development, they need exposure to more complex text that incorporates a greater number of sight words and more complex vocabulary. 

Sight words (any word a student has stored in long-term memory for instant recognition) are essential for fluent reading.  They make up a significant portion of written language. By introducing students to decodable texts that systematically add in sight words, students are able to make the transition from simple, phonetically-decodable words to more complex text that includes a variety of sight words and vocabulary.

Ready Reader Decodables- Two levels for each phonics skill.

Ready Reader Decodables Support ALL Learners

Ready Reader Decodables offers two levels of decodable books for each phonics skill.  This format provides students with the opportunity to develop their phonic decoding skills while also building their sight word recognition and fluency. By gradually increasing the complexity of the text, students are able to make the transition from simple decodable text to more complex, multi-syllabic words and phrases.  Ready Reader Decodables understands the demands of the reading brain.  Our multifaceted books and comprehension questions support our early readers and are aligned with the science of reading.

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