428

Decodable Books: Why They’re Important

all about reading decodable book featured graphic

Some children seem to learn to read by osmosis; they just “get it” without having to learn the phonics code that makes sense of reading.

But learning to read isn’t always that simple.

Many children require a systematic approach to teaching reading that allows them to learn incrementally. And as children learn to read, decodable books become an important part of the learning process.

But now you’re probably asking a pretty important question.

What Are Decodable Books?

Decodable books are books that contain only phonetic code that the student has already learned.

For example, a child at the beginning stages of reading who has learned the short vowel sounds could decode simple words like hat, bed, and pig, but would not be able to decode words like see and owl. A student at a higher reading level who has learned multi-letter phonograms like AI and OA would be able to decode more complex words like snail and goat.

When searching for books for your beginning reader, be aware that the term decodable books is often used incorrectly, particularly when it refers to texts in which only about half the words are decodable. Being able to decode only half the words in a book is very frustrating for most students, and does not support good reading habits. Truly decodable books—like the ones in the All About Reading program—are 100% decodable so the student is able to read every word.

Open decodable book from All About Reading

Why Are Decodable Books So Important for Beginning Readers?

When a child is expected to read books that are not decodable, he often becomes frustrated and starts guessing at words, thereby developing poor reading strategies. In the process, the child loses the direct connection between the phonics and word analysis skills he is learning and the actual text he is expected to read.

On the other hand, when a child reads a fully decodable book, he can use his knowledge of phonics and his word analysis skills to decode unfamiliar words. Because the child can figure out every word in the book, he feels successful, which in turn helps him build fluency and develop good reading strategies.

What’s Unique about the AAR Decodable Books?

Besides being 100% decodable, the stories in our reading program are designed to help students experience a real feeling of success and accomplishment. And that success sets in motion an upward spiral that results in even greater motivation to read.

Here are the features that make our decodable books so special:

  1. The stories are engaging and entertaining.

    It’s a challenge to write engaging stories with controlled word lists, but the results are worth the effort! Each book contains a wide variety of story lines, subjects, and themes that capture children’s interest and give them lots of practice in reading words they have learned. Each short story helps kids expand both their minds and their reading ability.
  2. Our stories use natural language.

    Most decodable books use stilted, unnatural language, mainly because authors find it difficult to create stories with controlled word lists. But those awkward sentences are hard for kids to read and comprehend, and may even turn some kids off of reading.

    Kids shouldn’t have to suffer through the typical stilted language of most decodable text. If we wouldn’t want to read it, we shouldn’t expect kids to! That’s why we take such great care in crafting each story to ensure that it flows as easily and naturally as possible. Kids are delighted when they read these stories, and they want to come back for more.

  3. The illustrations draw the child into the story.

    The right illustrations can go a long way toward enhancing a child’s motivation to read, and illustrations are an important part of our decodable books. Our illustrators create real personalities for each character so children can relate to them. Then they often add extra surprises and details to each scene for children to discover—and those discoveries delight the child and give him a sense of “owning” the story.

    Since the controlled word lists may limit what we can write, the illustrations may also be called upon to “fill in the blanks” of the story. However, it’s important to note that while the illustrations enhance the story, they never “give away” the words—that is, readers cannot guess the words by looking at the illustrations. It’s vital for the child to decode each word rather than rely on the illustrations for clues, so the drawings don’t enable the reader to “predict” the words on the page.

    Here’s an example of a Level 4 story from All About Reading.

    "Pigs in the Kitchen" download
  4. The text and pages are formatted very intentionally.

    Our books contain four specific formatting features that make a difference in your child’s reading experience:

    • In the early levels, the text has intentional line breaks to encourage natural phrasing.
      The pages are formatted to allow beginning readers to read more smoothly and comprehend the text more easily. You have probably heard a child read a sentence choppily, like this:

      The. . .ten. . .kids. . .thank. . .the. . .king. . .for. . .the. . .gifts.

      With the line breaks and natural phrasing we use in our books, the child is encouraged to read one phrase at a time, like this:

      The ten kids
      thank the king
      for the gifts.

    • Subtle underlines in our Level 1 books help children with tracking issues follow the words across the page.
      The underlining goes unnoticed by children who don’t need it, but it is invaluable for those who do need it.

    • The font used in Level 1 was customized to be simple and clear.
      For example, the p’s are easily distinguished from the b’s and the q’s, which is important for beginning readers and dyslexic students.

    • Finally, our books are printed on non-glare paper specially chosen to be easy on children’s eyes.
      Small details like these make a big difference in the experience of a beginning reader.

View more story samples from our Level 1-4 Readers.

Of course, students don’t read decodable books forever. But decodable books offer benefits that help beginning readers develop the skills and confidence they need to become strong readers. Soon enough, they’ll be able to read everything on the shelf!

The All About Reading program walks you through all the steps to help your child become a strong independent reader. The program is multisensory, motivating, and complete. And if you ever need a helping hand, we’re here for you! All About Reading Product Line

Have you used decodable stories with your students?

Share This:

< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Comment

Laurie

says:

This explains the frustrations we have had with leveled readers. When our son was first learning to read, it was so hard to find other readers that were appropriate because they inevitably contained words he hadn’t learned how to decode. We are truly thankful to have found an approach with All About Reading that has been successful.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Laurie,
Yes, so many leveled readers contain words that have difficult phonetic patterns that beginning readers aren’t ready for. Decodable books are so important.

Debbie

says:

This makes so much sense! My child is often frustrated that she can not read basic “level 1” books from the library. They have so many words that she has not decoded yet. I need to invest in decodable books!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Debbie,
When my children were younger, I had so much frustration with the leveled readers too! It was so obvious that they weren’t written with a child learning phonics in mind at all, and the level names themselves were so misleading. The “Pre Level 1” books have multisyllable words with silent letters and complex phonograms, words that many kids aren’t ready to read until after a year or two of reading instruction!

Decodable books do make a wonderful difference, and there are some great ones out there although they can be hard to find. And I do think our All About Reading books are especially well done. 😊

Karren Savorgnan

says:

We are new to AAR. My Children are very excited to begin soon.

Kate

says:

I really like the decodable readers that AAR has. We use them with our reading program for extra practice. Easy readers, as you all know, aren’t decodable and don’t work for a just-starting reader. My 3 year old loves having something she can read by herself!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a great point, Kate. So many early readers aren’t decodable. Glad to hear your little one is enjoying our decodable books!

Anna

says:

We love the decodable stories too!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Anna!

Jessica Nystrom

says:

Just received my Level 1 kit in the mail and the readers are beautiful. I love the color illustrations! My daughter took a sneak peak in them too and is so excited to start her reading journey!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing your impression of the Readers, Jessica! Glad you like them. 😊

Varshika Jain

says:

I also want level 1 and 2 books. How to get them. I want on mail.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Varshika,
If you are purchasing from the United States, you can order from our webstore. If you are outside of the US, please consider using a freight forwarder, such as MyUS. Many of our customers have used MyUS with great success.

Please let me know if you need more information.

Christina

says:

Do you have or recommend any other decodable readers that are available? My 6-year-old just started learning to read and he has really taken off. He has read his first Level 1 reader over and over and is even trying to read some in the next reader that we haven’t even moved on to yet. I’d love to give him some more content to read to continue to fuel his enthusiasm. All the other early readers that are supposedly for his level are not fully decodable and include a lot of advanced words or sight words he hasn’t learned yet.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christina,
We don’t know of another set of readers that will correlate exactly, so you may have to teach some new patterns (or just help with the words and let your child know he’ll learn them later).

Here are some possibilities for reinforcement during and after AAR 1. Hopefully you’ll find lots to satisfy your child. 😉

– Bob books, Sets 1 & 2

– DK Flip the Page Rhyme and Read books: Pat the Cat, Jen the Hen, Mig the Pig, Tog the Dog, and Zug the Bug.

– Usborne Very First Readers or My First Library

– Sonlight’s Fun Tales (27 books in one box, using short vowel words), and I Can Read It Book 1 (the first part)

– Christian Liberty Press readers, (It Is Fun to Read, Pals and Pets)

– Half Pint Readers – Level a for the first part of AAR 1, Level b for the second part. Level C would go more with AAR 2.

American Language Series books. The first two titles, “Fun in the Sun” and “Scamp and Tramp”, go pretty well with AAR 1 and the second two titles, “Soft and White” and “At the Farm”, would go along with AAR 2., while the last two, “On the Trail” and “Sounds of the Sea”, go along with AAR 3.

– Books by Nora Gaydos (bright pictures with stories, these come in packs of 10–see the Level 1 sets)

– Merrill Readers (meant for remediation, so the covers might appeal to older students as well.)

Simple Words Books: Decodable chapter books

– Dash into Reading (expensive, but see if you can find a coupon or if your library has them)

– I See Sam Readers (also available online for free)

– I Like to Read books: I see a Cat, See Me Dig, Big Cat, Happy Cat, I Will Try, Pig Has a Plan

– Cat Traps (Step-Into-Reading, Step 1)

Miss Rhonda Readers Set 1 (these do include some two-syllable words and unfamiliar phonograms occasionally)

Meg and Greg books (these books have text for the parent to read and then text for the student. They follow AAR 1 fairly well but do include two-syllable words like “rocket” that students won’t learn until level 2, so you would have to help your children with some words.)

Primary Phonics (sets 1 and 1A go pretty well with AAR 1)

Reading Teacher

– Fun Phonics–the first 3 books

Progressive Phonics – Free phonics books that can be read online or downloaded and used right away.

We Read Phonics Big pictures with one sentence. Example of level 1 is “Bugs on the Bus”. Example of level 2 is “Which Pet is Best”.

– We Both Read books. On the left hand pages there is text for the parent to read and on the right is text for the kids to read. Here’s an example.

– Flyleaf Publishing Emergent Readers

– The Core Knowledge LA Kindergarten readers are usually decodable after AAR/AAS level 1. The readers start at unit 6. Unit 10 (the last Kindergarten unit) has some silent e words, which wouldn’t be accessible yet to students doing AAR. They’re free to download:
https://www.engageny.org/resource/kindergarten-skills-unit-6-reader-kit

– A Pig, A Fox, and a Box, and A Pig, A Fox and Stinky Socks. Funny, but do have a few words not taught in AAR 1. Some moms have found them accessible though.

– S.P.I.R.E. Decodable Readers. Level 1 uses short vowels and these phonograms: a, i, o, u, e, sh, ch, th, wh, -ng, -nk. You would want to introduce how to read the wh phonogram. Some of the Level 2 readers would work too, and then others would be better with AAR 2. Those include: ff, ll, ss, al, wa, qu, ck, tch, and vowel-consonant E words.

Nicki

says:

Although my child is reading, it has been a huge struggle. She will learn new words and read them in the story just fine. Then if the word appears in a later story, she will just say a random word and keep going. I’ll ask her to read through the sentence again, and very rarely she will catch the mistake. If she doesn’t catch it, I will point out the word. She will just stare at it without trying to figure the word out. It is as if she never actually learned the word or is just in a rush to get done. Is it just a matter of needing more practice? Any advice/words of wisdom are appreciated!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nicki,
It sounds like maybe your daughter has learned that fluent reading is faster and easier, that if she just knows a word it is much easier than having to sound words out. So she is trying to just “know” words that she doesn’t really know. This is a pretty common thing that happens as children start reading more fluently.

However, it leads to word guessing and that can make a big problem with understanding what was read. And this only grows worse as the child reads more and more difficult books.

You are doing right to have her reread words she misreads. After she misreads a word, wait until she finishes the sentence. If she doesn’t stop herself, then stop her and ask if what she read made sense. This is important, as you want her to learn to be thinking about what she is reading and to learn the importance of going back if it isn’t making sense. Then have her reread the sentence. If she catches her error and correctly reads the word on the second attempt, praise her. If she still doesn’t read it correctly, point out the misread word.

Then, if she just stares at it, build the word with the letter tiles and help her to break it into syllables (if needed) and sound it out. Then have her read the word on the page, then have her reread the sentence. This all is a lot of work in the middle of the story, but it does show her how important you feel getting every word correctly is. With most kids, it doesn’t take long for them to start sounding words out when asked to reread a sentence, as they know that will be faster than continuing to guess and then having to use the tiles.

Make a note of the word she had trouble with to go over again the next day and then again the next week. Just build it with tiles at the beginning of your reading lesson time and have her break it into syllables if needed and then read it. You can also use similar but different words for this review too. For example, if she misread “loudly” you could also review with “louder” or “boldly” and others. You can also play Change-the-Word where you build a word, she reads it, then you switch out one (or if it is a longer word two) letters and have her read that. This activity helps children learn to focus on each sound in words.

Then, with practice, she will hopefully start finding that what she read doesn’t make sense and will start going back over a sentence without being prompted. THAT is where you want her to be. We all misread things at times but knowing when to go back and reread more closely for understanding is such an important skill for comprehension.

I hope this helps but would love to hear how things go over the next couple of weeks. Let me know if you have any questions.

Robin

says:

My daughter loves the stories! She keeps the finished books in her room and reads them over and over.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Awww, this warms my heart, Robin. There is nothing sweeter to say about a book. 😊

Amanda

says:

I love the look of these new color books! I can’t wait to get ours in!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Amanda. The color books are lovely to look at. 😊

Ethan McGowan

says:

I enjoyed reading each.

Katie

says:

My son just finished Level 1! He loved reading the stories, and I loved that the stories were his level but not repetitive and the illustrations were engaging but not distracting. He is already asking for more books like the three that came with Level 1.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love that your son is wanting more books, Katie. I new reader is on his way! I assume you let him know that there are two new readers with All About Reading level 2? 😉

Briana

says:

Anxious to give these a try! Decodeable readers are so important when teaching kids to read. They are definitely a necessity.

Leelannee Godfrey

says:

I have 2 who are starting to read and it would be great to have some help. At the moment we don’t have a curriculum but we are reading every day and it’ll get better I know.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Leelanee,
We have a lot of blog posts that can help you help your two in reading. Check out: Helping Kids Sound Out Words, How to Teach Open and Closed Syllables, Silent E: Teaching Kids the Whole Truth

Also, take a look at the many free resources we have available as well.

Let me know if you have any specific questions or need help with anything.

Lacey

says:

My 7.5 year old chooses his AAR readers alllll the time. I seen a huge boost in his confidence because he CAN read them and decode.

Paula V

says:

I’m looking forward to seeing my child excited about learning to read and gaining more confidence.

Megan

says:

I have not used decodable stories but I will look into that now! We are currently helping our 5th child learn to read but it is proving to be more challenging than the others. This may be very useful.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Megan,
Isn’t it interesting how a 5th child can seem to be so different than the rest? My 5th child was that way for me. 😊

Jennifer

says:

This is such great information! Thank you! My son is thriving with this program.

Lisa

says:

Our family loves AAR!

Amanda

says:

I love the attention paid to formatting details, as these small details make a big difference to learning-disabled students.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Amanda. 😊

Gen

says:

Point 4 is very interesting. I like this approach, and the littles love AAR! <3

Meagan

says:

My daughter loves the stories!

Tara Hettinger

says:

We are really enjoy our first All About Reading program.

Kim

says:

We love the readers! Thank you for great resources!

Jessica Kamin

says:

It can be hard to find phonics based decidable books at the library for early readers, so these stories are really useful for building confidence.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
I know what you mean. It seems the majority of “beginning readers” at the library and book stores are full of words that students aren’t usually ready to decode until they are well beyond beginning reading.

Anna

says:

This 100% I am
Thankful I found this program !

Sara

says:

These books have been invaluable to my struggling reader!

Jessica

says:

My daughter loves the decodable books from AAR! They are so colorful and fun!

Sarah Bingham

says:

My daughter loves these books and is so thankful to have some that she can read because library books aren’t often decodable for her.

Jess

says:

Our favorite part of AAR is the readers! Such fun stories, and a huge sense of accomplishment for a beginning reader!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love that you have enjoyed the readers so much, Jess! Thank you.

Amanda B

says:

Yes! They work so well! Thankful for your program that makes is so much easier to teach all of this!

Leave a Comment