It is important to remember that reading is not an innate skill children develop through trial and error like learning to speak. Developing the skills to accurately link oral speech and written language (i.e. reading) takes tools, time and a specific sequence. Using the appropriate tools for each stage of this learning sequence is essential to ensure children are not left to try and ‘guess their way’ to reading.
Children are often provided with Decodable Readers by teachers and literacy specialists during the foundation stages of learning to read.
Here I explain what Decodable Readers are, when they are to be used and share samples of the sets I have developed as part of my clinical practice.
What are Decodable Readers?
Decodable Readers are books that rely on the child looking at groups of letters and matching them to sounds they represent. In other words, children will learn to read the words rather than use pictures or other clues to guess the words.
You know a child is successfully learning to ‘decode’ when they are able to accurately look at the letters and say what the letters sound like:
- As single letters: ‘s’
- When added to another letter: “sl”
- When in groups of letters: “slug”
and not be dependent on pictures or the story to continue reading.
When to begin using Decodable Readers
Decodable Readers are best introduced when a child:
- Has established a ‘letter/sound link’
- In other words, when they see the letter ‘t’ or ‘m’, they can say the sound of that letter out loud*
- Is able to visually process from left to right and differentiate between letters*
- Is able to sit with an adult and begin to focus on the content of a book
Ideally a child will be working on early Decodable Readers during their Prep year and by doing so will be set up for a lifetime of discovering their favourite books.
My Alison Work Decodable Readers are carefully sequenced to support many of the early skills a child requires for independent reading. Upon completion of the three sets children will have the base decoding skills required to link oral speech and written language.
The three sets combine to encourage decoding through repetitive patterning of groups of letters (word families) to promote the linking of groups of letters to the sounds they represent.
These three samples below demonstrate how a child progresses in developing decoding skills. (click on each book to view inside)
In Set 1 the child is introduced to sounds with the context of a picture
In Set 2 stories are introduced where the child will not be able to guess the text based on the pictures
Set 3 expands the number of letters the child is simultaneously processing by introducing initial blends. The child will have to read and decode the text in order to understand the stories and funny pictures.
I hope this short blog has encouraged you to have increased confidence in the sequenced path of Decodable Readers the teacher or literacy specialist has set up for your child. Time spent with a child helping them read Decodable Readers will certainly be a rewarding investment for both the adult and the child.
You are welcome to view more samples from the Decodable Reader program , they are available for purchase in both eBook and printed format.
*If a child is struggling with these pre-literacy skills, working through the earlier stages of My Alison Work Early Literacy Program are strongly recommended.