Learn about decodable reading books and how to use them efficiently to improve a child’s reading skills, speed, and comprehension.

Table of Contents

Decodable reading books

Decodable books are research-based tools of great importance to the science of reading. They mainly address reading issues in young children, often at the beginning of their reading journey.

But without understanding their structure and unique features, it’s challenging to identify or even use decodable reading books accordingly.

What is a decodable book?

Decodable books are sequential books that gradually improve the reader’s phonic knowledge. They help kids and people with disabilities to practice grapheme-phoneme correspondences.

Essentially, decodable books allow readers to use segmenting and blending skills to read and enhance their ability to identify words quickly.

Any book can fit in the decodable book category. It just depends on the reader’s reading ability to process the text’s complexity.

For example, decodable books for beginner kids feature known alphabetic code. These books can help someone sound out words instead of guessing them and do so progressively easier.

Decodable books may contain the following elements:

  • CVC words formed from two consonants and a vowel

  • Team vowels

  • Short vowels

They are essential to a good phonics program that teaches letter-sound relationships in a way that’s easy to understand by children with limited language and phonetics knowledge.

The benefits of decodable books

Teaching phonics skills to enhance reading comprehension in anyone, from pre-K to first grade to teen readers, often requires decodable books. Although it may seem like a slow process, it has many benefits.

  • There are books for everyone – Decodable books are fit for beginner readers and struggling readers of all ages. The books can shift the focus on text construction and the alphabetic code to ease readers into sophisticated vocabulary without repetitive or predictable text.

  • They develop reading accuracy – Young readers may not develop better reading skills without reading from books that match their reading accuracy. Decodable books allow emerging readers to become better readers and progress smoothly through different challenges through a structured literacy reading program.

  • Promoting inclusion – Reading decodable books nurtures curiosity and social and emotional development and exposes learners to cultural diversity. Accelerating reading success can help kids and other learners adapt to the surrounding environment and avoid division or prejudice.

  • Learn to read faster – Progressing through decodable books benefits a reader’s accuracy without sounding out letters. This speeds up the development of reading skills and fluency. It’s a phonics instruction program that keeps emergent or reluctant readers engaged and constantly progressing.

How to use decodable books

Sometimes, phonemic awareness isn’t a primary concern for parents and teachers, but prioritizing it supports and hones decoding skills. Here’s how to get the most out of decodable chapter books.

Before reading

Decodable books have particular letter-sound knowledge displayed on the cover. Using that information to select the correct decodable reader is essential. For instance, a reader with “ai” words is crucial for practicing long vowel sounds.

Another critical step is to explain the purpose of learning sounds before reading. Reading full words with learned sounds supports faster reading and fluency. From there, it’s also essential to encourage readers to practice fast reads with tricky or complex words.

During reading

Using decodable books during reading can help teachers and parents interact with the reader.

Emergent readers can point at words as they read them. It helps their focus and ability to track the blending of letter sounds. They may cease to follow with their fingers as they build reading confidence.

Teachers and parents should identify and correct mistakes by allowing readers to blend sounds again and reread sentences.

Speechify – Use text to speech for letter sounds and reading instruction

Decodable books aren’t accessible to every student. For example, children with dyslexia may still struggle to follow a decodable book and sound it out correctly. However, that’s where software like Speechify can help.

Speechify uses text to speech (TTS) technology. It processes written digital or physical text and turns it into an audio narration. It can narrate complete story lines in a realistic voice or help kids practice vowel teams, short vowels, CVC words (words with one vowel and two consonants) and other phonics patterns.

Speechify is available on mobile and desktop devices, can scan and speak aloud from illustrations and paperback books, and has adjustable playback speed to accommodate every reader.

It’s an excellent solution for reading alongside decodable books to make them accessible and enhance a child’s reading skills.

Try Speechify today as an at-home or classroom assistive technology for emerging readers.


How do decodable books teach reading?

Decodable books can help children sound out words instead of guessing them from pictures and other visual cues. They teach decoding strategies that progressively improve reading speed and confidence. It’s a different approach to leveled readers that engage students with illustrations of high-frequency words or sight words to identify or predict unfamiliar words.

What is considered a decodable text?

A decodable text only has words with corresponding phonetic codes already familiar to beginning readers. A text is decodable when the phonetic structure aligns with a child’s phonics knowledge.

How many decodable books are there?

Book creators offer hundreds, if not thousands, of decodable books designed for beginner phonics readers. You can find them from popular sources like Flyleaf Emergent Readers, BOB Books, Jolly Phonics, S.P.I.R.E Decodable Readers, Primary Phonics, Amazon, and High Noon, among others.

What is the difference between a decodable book and a text?

Decodable books are different than traditional literature because they focus on specific phonics patterns. Leveled books combine multiple phonetic patterns, emphasize sentence fluency, and use richer vocabulary in the same text. While decodable books can help readers study and improve on their own, leveled books need more consistent guidance.

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