Decodable Books for Early Readers


Decodable Books for Early Readers

Decodable Books for Early Readers

SoalSMA - Decodable Books for Early Readers - As your child begins to read, you may be looking for age-appropriate reading materials to practice with. 

Decodable books are a form of reading that allows young or struggling readers to develop their phonics skills by exposing them to a selection of letter and sound letters they have learned through explicit instruction.

"No matter what, you have to deal with a student who has the ability," says Laura Appleton-Smith, founder of Flyleaf Publishing, a press that specializes in decoding books.  "Descriptive texts are decoded because the reader is taught letter-sound messages that allow the reader to recognize the speech sounds that letters or letter combinations make."

As children practice associating letter symbols with their corresponding sounds, they gradually learn to decipher the patterns used to write words.

Linda Farrell, one of the founders of Readsters, a research-based reading instruction consulting company, says that reading books are the best way for readers to practice their phonics skills when used appropriately. 

If you have a child who is just starting to read, here's what you need to know about Decode books and how to include them in your child's reading list.

What are perishable books?

Decodable books are aimed at articulating skills, or the process by which readers use their knowledge of letter-sound messages to identify words.  Readers with strong decoding skills can identify the pronunciation of the word without effort.

Readers should first strengthen this skill by sounding out each letter, says literacy researcher and expert Louisa Moat.  "Reading doesn't happen through phonics - phonics is a stepping stone to reading words in general," she says.

Farrell adds that it is especially important that they do so without using any context clues, such as pictures.

Decomposable books give students the opportunity to recognize and practice letter-sound pairings they have learned through classroom or home teaching.  Often, these texts come as a series of books that become more complex as the reader progresses - for example, early books may focus on short words in a specific sequence consisting of a consonant-vowel-consonant sequence, such as "bed" and "hit", while later books have a rich variety of sounds. And they include letters.

Unlike other books designed for early readers, decodable books try to eliminate letter-sound combinations that are unknown to the reader.  Appleton-Smith and Farrell both note, however, that it is impossible to avoid certain words, particularly high-frequency words that are not always spelled the way they are pronounced.  (For example, "said" and "whom" are common but written informally.)

Moats says it's important to make sure children learn the letters and sounds in a given text before they can practice reading from text.  A child who only learns to read a short "a" and a few consonants cannot decode words like "boat" or "picture," for example.

Just because the words and sentence structures are simple doesn't mean the stories themselves have to be boring, says Appleton-Smith.  When writing a resolvable text, Appleton-Smith says she follows a narrative arc and structure that any other children's story would have.

How to use perishable books

Perishable books are not meant to be the only literature in a child's reading routine.  Farrell says you should continue to read other, richer and more complex children's books with your child, using decodable books to help them practice what they know.

And Moats adds that decodable books aren't particularly useful on their own—they're supplements, not replacements, for standard reading guides.

"If parents are eager to buy Decode books thinking it's a bit misleading to have their children practice the people teaching them to read, that's a bit misleading," he said.

She encourages parents to meet with their child's teacher and understand what speech skills are being taught.  This way, you can get a better idea of ??which decodable books are right for your child at their current level of learning how to read.

You don't have to wait for your child to learn these things in the classroom, either—Appleton-Smith's books also come with instructional information that allows parents to train their children in short lessons before diving into the actual story.  And after the child has finished reading the story aloud, Farrell encourages parents to talk and talk about the book with their child, so the child feels engaged in the reading process.

"The most important thing a parent can do is give their children wonderful experiences with good stories and foster conversations around those stories," Farrell said.

List of perishable books

If you're looking for the perfect decodable books to share with your young readers, here's a quick list to get you started:

The Sizzy Books fun phonics series offers several free books that can be downloaded online.

Flyleaf Publishing's Emergent Reader Series is aimed at students in pre-K through first grade, but can be used with older students who struggle to develop expression skills.

The Continental Press Early Phonics Readers series focuses on teaching a series of short vowel sounds to children in pre-K through first grade.

Jolly Education publishes several decoding readers in the Jolly Phoenix catalog. 

The Supercharged Readers series, published by Sopris West, includes openable chapter books for children in first and second grades or older children who need intervention.

Phonic Readers from Australian non-profit Special Learning Difficulties South Australia is dedicated to Aboriginal students and is available online for free.

Although they aren't decodeable, the team behind Readsters recommends High Noon Sound Out chapter books for older struggling readers to improve their decoding skills.

All About Learning Press publishes a series of decodable books for children of various age groups.

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