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Using Decodable Books – Printable Readers with Free File

Decodable books reinforce phonics skills and promote reading fluency in early childhood education. Grab a free file along the way and discover the benefits of printable decodable books and how to incorporate them into your lessons.

Printable Decodable Books

By now, you have probably heard of decodable readers or decodable books.  The science of reading has been widely discussed in education for many years. Decodable books are essential in early childhood education for teaching children how to read.

These books are specifically designed to help children practice their phonics skills by featuring words that can be decoded using the phonics rules they have learned so far.

This blog post will explore decodable books, their importance in early childhood education, and the benefits of using printable decodable books for beginning readers or striving readers. You will also find a free decodable book toward the end of this post.

What are Decodable Books?

Decodable books are books that contain a high percentage of words that align with the phonics skills being taught, along with high-frequency words. These books follow a systematic approach, gradually introducing new phonics concepts as children progress in their reading skills.

Decodable books provide children with meaningful reading experiences that develop their orthographic mapping system and the opportunity to put their phonics knowledge to use.  These passages differ from leveled readers or predictable texts.

You can read more about the difference between decodable books and leveled texts by clicking:

Using decodable books in the classroom and at home has several benefits. They provide targeted practice in phonics skills, reinforce reading strategies, and are a great way to build confidence in early readers. These books also serve as a valuable resource for differentiated instruction, allowing educators to provide individualized support and challenge for each child.

Additionally, decodable books can be used (instead of)  leveled texts for guided reading and shared reading activities, promoting social interaction and collaboration among students.

Why are Decodable Books Important?

Decodable books play a vital role in cementing phonics instruction. Decodable books support this instruction by allowing children to practice their phonics skills in a meaningful and authentic context.

One of the primary benefits of decodable books is their ability to support both decoding skills and phonemic awareness. This reinforces students’ understanding of the alphabetic principle and helps them recognize common sound-letter relationships. Our brains like patterns, so seeing these word patterns helps build this orthographic mapping system!

Additionally, decodable books offer opportunities for children to practice blending sounds and segmenting words, further developing their phonemic awareness skills.

Research and studies consistently demonstrate the effectiveness of decodable books in teaching children to read. A study by the National Reading Panel found that systematic phonics instruction, including decodable texts, significantly improves reading achievement.
Decodable books have also been particularly beneficial for struggling readers and children with dyslexia, as they provide targeted practice and reinforcement of essential phonics skills.


You can find more activities for decoding words by clicking:

Types of Decodable Books

Decodable books are typically organized around specific phonics skills with repetitive sight words.   These decodable passages typically target phonics skills students need to read the majority of words in the text successfully. This allows educators the ability to match the books to children’s specific phonics abilities and provides extra practice for students to build their orthographic mapping system. 

These books offer a systematic progression of skills, ensuring a gradual increase in difficulty. For example, if a student has mastered CVC words, they may be ready to encounter other short vowels that may include consonant blends or digraphs.  Older students may be moving from short vowels to long vowels or vowel teams.

When selecting decodable books, it is crucial to consider the children’s knowledge of letter sounds and their phonemic awareness skills. You may encounter students who know all their letter sounds but may be unable to blend sounds to read or segment sounds by writing them as words. 

  • Blending: As students see unknown words, they say each sound c-u-t.  Then, they blend them together and say, “Cut.”
  • Segmenting:  As students write the word cut, they segment the word into individual phonemes and write. c-u-t.

Starting with books that align with students’ current phonics knowledge builds a solid foundation for success. Gradually increasing the level of difficulty as children progress will keep them challenged while building their reading skills.

Here are some tips on teaching word blending:

How to Use Decodable Books

How do you use decodable books in the classroom?  You have many opportunities to incorporate decodable books throughout the day.

Whole Group Instruction   

As you are teaching phonics skills, have a connected text that allows the students to practice applying their new knowledge.  This independent practice can occur with partners at school or as part of their independent work at home.

Decodable books reinforce phonics skills and promote reading fluency in early childhood education. Grab a free file along the way and discover the benefits of printable decodable books and how to incorporate them into your lessons.

Small Group Instruction

Use decodable books during small group instruction to provide focused practice on specific phonics skills. We may need to differentiate your instruction.  This may mean having a group of striving readers who need more time and exposure to a previously taught phonics skill. You may also have strong readers who are ready to learn more. So, small groups are a great way to provide a challenge.

Independent Reading

If a student is practicing independent reading but can’t decode the text, this will not help them grow as a reader.  So, “best practices” suggest you help match students with books where they can read all of the words. 

Literacy Centers

Create literacy centers that include decodable word work practice and related activities. These centers provide hands-on practice and reinforce phonics skills in a fun and interactive way.

Students can work on building fluency during their center time. This student is working on speed!  We love this decodable fluency activity.

These thematic interactive decodable books are great for students to read, color, and complete during center time. If these books are a bit challenging for students, you can use them as a shared reading lesson. Then, students can practice re-reading the text during center time.

Decodable Words – Readers Theater

Readers theater is a great way to get students excited about practicing their fluency!

Students beg to have these in their learning centers!

They are also great to use in your small group for a little extra fluency practice!

You can find a whole set of decodable readers theater for your classroom by clicking:

Skills-based centers are also a great way for students to get additional practice!

You can match the student task to the individual student’s needs.

How to Use Decodable Texts in Small Group

Now that you are ready to start small group lessons with your young readers, what do these lesson plans look like? Let’s break it down:

1. Phonics Lesson Review:  Some students need additional time with skills, so reviewing the phonics focus prior to reading the book is always a good idea.  

2. Blending Practice:  Students may use Elkonin boxes to help build, write, and read words that align with the phonics focus.

3. High-Frequency Words:  High-frequency words included in the text are explicitly taught and reviewed as needed before reading the book.

You can read more about how to teach high-frequency words by clicking:

indergarten high frequency words... Questions answered! Which word list? How many words should a kindergarten student be able to read. Find out what the science of reading suggests and how I made it work in kindergarten classrooms.

4.  Story Words:  Words that students might encounter in the text are reviewed prior to reading the book.  Story words are words that are in the book, but they exceed the phonics skills the students might have mastered. These story words help carry the story and add depth to it.

5. Reading the Text: Students read the decodable text quietly. The teacher will push in to listen to the students as they are reading. I like to have students turn their chairs at the small table so they all face differently. Then I get up and kneel beside them to listen in.

Having students turn helps them hear themselves and prevents choral reading that can sometimes take place.

6. 6. Comprehension Questions: Building reading comprehension with decodable texts can be challenging because students’ language comprehension usually exceeds what they can currently decode. You can read more about how we build reading comprehension in the early grades in this blog post:

However, we still want students to understand that interacting and thinking about the text is important every time we read.  So, we ask students targeted questions each time.

7. Dictation:  We are teaching phonics skills for mastery.  Dictation is an important part of each lesson.  Students are asked to write some words incorporating the targeted phonics skills.  Then, they are asked to write a related sentence.

TIP:  Since this is in a small group, it is a great time to reinforce writing conventions and sentence structures. 

These printable books are perfect for fluency practice, so students add them to their reading bags for additional practice.

You can find the small group set of decodable texts in this unit.

You can find the thematic interactive decodable books by clicking:

Decodable books can play a crucial role in helping children grasp the significance of every letter in words and reinforce letter-sound relationships until they are mastered. Remember that the effectiveness of using decodable books for early readers lies in your adept instructional approach before, during, and after reading sessions. Your skillful guidance makes these books a valuable choice for young learners.

Free Printable Decodable Text

You can download a free printable decodable PDF by adding your name to the box below!


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Decodable books reinforce phonics skills and promote reading fluency in early childhood education. Grab a free file along the way and discover the benefits of printable decodable books and how to incorporate them into your lessons.

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Deedee Wills

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

Hi, I'm DeedeE.

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

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