What Makes a Good Decodable Text?
Decodable books help students conduct targeted reading practice that strengthens their phonics skills. These texts promote active reading so students have a chance to apply the lessons they’re learning in the classroom.
So, what makes a decodable text different from other books, and how can you identify high-quality texts? If you’re looking for reading resources for your early learners, you’ve come to the right place. I realize I might not be the most unbiased resource, but I support many other publishers in their work, as I believe that students deserve to have the best resources possible, whether you find them here or elsewhere. Hopefully, this post will help you review decodable text for yourself.
What are Decodable Texts?
Decodable texts contain carefully curated content that follows focus grapheme-phoneme patterns. These books give students a chance to practice their decoding skills with reading material that follows their classroom phonics’ scope and sequence (the order in which the skills are taught).
For example, teachers may use decodable books that focus specifically on CVC words (consonant-short vowel-consonant), vowel teams, double letter blends, or CVCe words. Your chosen reading materials should align with students’ phonics lessons, reading abilities, and background knowledge.
Decodables allow for autonomous reading or reading with little facilitation since the text mostly contains words children have already been taught to decode. Hence, they can use their understanding of sound-symbol relationships to read.
How to Determine High-Quality Decodable Text
High-quality decodable texts keep students interested by providing the following:
Suitably Challenging Practice Material
Decodable texts should transparently identify the included skills so educators and parents can find books using learned skills with a bit of a challenge.
The repetition of a phonics pattern helps students practice until they’re comfortable reading that particular sound-spelling in text with fluency. Beginner books are often easy to follow and use VC (vowel-consonant) or CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. As the series progresses, advanced-level decodable texts use more complex phonics patterns and introduce children to more words with irregular spellings.
Reading Comprehension Support
Just because a book focuses on basic phonics structures doesn’t mean that the book needs to be without content. Students should be able to apply more than just sound-spelling knowledge when reading a decodable. Reading instruction is more effective when students feel engaged and interested in the resources being used.
Interesting Yet Meaningful Content
Low-quality decodable texts often don’t have a lot of meaning. These books will focus primarily on the phonics lessons they’re trying to teach without trying to build interesting narratives, characters, etc.
These books might also lose meaning in the attempt to be “highly decodable,” by using odd sentence structure or poorly chosen words. These factors can cause children to lose interest, and although students will not love every task laid out before them, you can find decodables that can avoid these factors.