Teach Me to Read – Not Guess

Children will often say to me, “Thank you for teaching me to read – not guess”.

The children have worked out that reading is not an innate skill, such as talking and walking and needs to be explicitly taught.

Developing the skills to accurately link oral speech and written language (i.e. reading) takes tools, time and a specific and prolonged sequence of instruction. 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 accurate reading.

During the foundation stages of learning to read, children are often provided with ‘Decodable Readers’ by teachers and literacy specialists.

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. Development of these phonic skills teach the child that speech and print are linked.

In other words, children will learn to ‘read’ the written 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 the sounds.

They will develop this skill in the following sequence:

  1. As single letters: ‘s’
  2. When added to another letter: “sl” “ug”
  3. When in groups of letters: “slug”

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’, and can say aloud the sound of that letter
  • 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 exploring their favourite books.

My Alison Work Decodable Readers

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 of readers combine to encourage decoding through repetitive patterning of groups of letters (word families) to promote the linking of these groups of letters to the sounds they represent.

The three samples below demonstrate how children progress as they develop 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.

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.

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