Decodable Readers A Teaching Guide

Decodable Readers A Teaching Guide

As teachers keen on exploring the science of learning, understanding the value of decodable readers in fostering student literacy is crucial. Decodable readers are a bridge to reading automaticity and also to supporting students' ability to unlock the complex world of alphabetic codes.

Decodable books are specifically designed to align with the scope and sequence of phonics instruction. Essentially, decodable books are designed to be taught side by side with synthetic phonics lessons.

This step-by-step progression builds students' literacy skills in a systematic way. This has the added benefit of limiting stress on working memory. Crucially, each reader introduces only a few letter-sound correspondences at a time, allowing students to first gain competency with basic codes before others are added.


A defining quality of decodable readers is that they help reduce cognitive load for students. Rather than students having to learn and focus on dozens of unfamiliar words, they can instead concentrate their efforts on only several words at a time.

This reduction in complexity keeps students engaged while simultaneously providing an effective learning experience and can only build students' confidence in themselves as readers and learners.

Decodable Readers A Teaching Guide - Scaffolded Support

Another integral characteristic of decodable readers is that their design is another form of scaffolded support. This progressive assistance helps new learners master unfamiliar words. Like all scaffolded supports, props are gradually withdrawn as the child gradually adds extra codes and words to their alphabetic code knowledge.

Through consistent use of decodable readers, budding readers are granted the gift of building automaticity in their decoding skills. This increasingly automatic ability is instrumental in supporting reading fluency. It allows learners to shift their focus from just the mechanics of decoding to understanding the content of what they are reading.


Decodable readers also encourage students to practice their nascent blending and segmenting skills and to more accurately make the letter-sound links in connected text. The more students can engage with decoding practice in connected text, the quicker they can move toward reading fluency.

It's important to note that decodable readers are in no way meant to replace high-quality children's books. Instead, they should be used in conjunction with commercially available picture and chapter books to provide a balanced literacy program.

As students continue to cultivate foundational reading skills through a combination of phonic lessons and decodable readers, their confidence and competence as readers will likewise continue to increase.

This boost to confidence can open up myriad opportunities to later explore a diverse range of text genres. Students who are confident learners with good alphabetic code knowledge can more readily navigate complex narrative landscapes, which amplifies their literacy experiences and sets them on the path to reading mastery and independent learners.

Decodable Readers A Teaching Guide - Reading Becomes Achievable

An added benefit of using decodable readers is that they help to demystify the process of learning to read, both for teachers and for students. This demystification occurs when students are almost immediately given the opportunity to directly transfer their ability to code simple words to decoding the same or similar words in connected text.

To experience this rapid transformation is a memorable experience for teachers to witness and a wonderful experience for students to feel. All of a sudden, students realize that they can do this. That book reading is achievable.

To fully reap the benefits of decodable readers, these indispensable tools must be an essential component of classroom practice. Regular, systematic reading practice with decodable readers needs to occur daily and be viewed as not just an addition but as a vital part of literacy instruction. Decodable readers are the bridge that continues the path from children simply decoding words in isolation to fluently reading newly learnt words in connected text.

The use of decodable readers can also indirectly encourage students' understanding of narrative structure.

With repeated access to decodable readers, students can learn to predict patterns in story, become more familiar with story structure or story grammar, and make real and valuable connections with character motivations and themes.

This has the potential to develop budding reading comprehension skills.

Click on the video below to hear Alison from Learning at the Primary Pond an accurate account of decodable readers. 

Decodable Readers A Teaching Guide - Summary

For learners who require more additional support, such as those with learning difficulties or with a trauma background, decodable readers can be a safety net. Students can learn alphabetic codes at their own pace without fear of constant failure. By focusing on what they know, students gain the confidence to take risks and grow as independent readers.

In conclusion, decodable readers, when used strategically and well, are a potent and valuable tool in a teacher's literacy instruction toolkit. They offer a structured path to help students make sense of the alphabetic codes, support automatic decoding, and pave the way towards successful reading fluency.

As you venture into the world of decodable readers and the science of reading, you are not just teaching reading skills to your students but nurturing lifelong learners and passionate readers.


Five from Five (Multilit) Decodable Readers Decodable books - Five from Five

Learning at the Primary Pond, Youtube Channel: (75) Learning At The Primary Pond - YouTube