Decodable books are books that typically have controlled text. The words are simple to decode. This is helpful for students as they are at the beginning stages of reading. The benefit of using decodable text is that students do not encounter many unfamiliar words that they can not figure out by using the strategy of sounding it out.
One challenge of these books, especially for ELLs is that the language can be awkward. Some of the vocabulary words used may not be familiar to students. It is important to expose students to a wide range of reading materials and not limit them only to decodable texts. This is especially true for older ELLs.
Using Decodable Texts with ELLs
For young students consider using decodable texts some of the time for guided reading. This will allow students to practice their emerging decoding skills and not get frustrated with challenging words that they are unable to sound out.
You can also have students use decodable texts as part of a phonics or word study lesson. First have students complete word sorts. Then students can go on a word hunt Have them look through the books for examples of words that have a phonics pattern that they are learning. For example “make a list of words that have the short a /a/ sound.”
For older ELLs, decodable texts are one tool that is particularly helpful for students that are not literate in their home language. As they are learning phonics skills they can practice using books. There are chapter books students can read.
Benchmark Education Decodable Readers– Benchmark has a large collection of decodable readers. Each book focuses on a phonics skill. The beginning sets have cvc words with a focus on letter sounds, it progresses to long vowel patterns. Designed for k-1. The nonfiction titles are appropriate for older students.
Flyleaf publishing decodable texts– Flyleaf publishing has decodable books designed for students in grades k-3. Each book has colorful illustrations. You are able to view the phonics skill covered in each book.
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Peppa Pig– For young students, this set of phonics books has familiar characters. The books do a good job of sticking with simple to decode words.
Bob Books– This set of books have sets that increase in difficulty. It starts with letter sounds and moves on to short vowels, blends, and long vowels. The illustrations are simple without color.
The Yak Pack– This set of books has sets that increase in difficulty. It starts with short vowels, digraphs, and blends. The illustrations are simple without color.
Now I’m Reading!– This set of books has sentences and phrases that increase in difficulty. The first sets have short vowels and blends, other sets have long vowels and word endings.
TERL Phonics– This set of decodable books starts with short vowels and moves on to long vowels and multisyllabic words. They have colorful photographs and are designed for high school students.
Flyleaf publishing currently has its decodable emergent readers available as free ebooks. Each book has colorful illustrations and a fun story.
Decodable Chapter Books
Chapter books are helpful for older students that are still learning how to decode. They allow students to feel like they are reading “real” books similar to their peers.
The Cat on the Mat is Flat– This silly rhyming book has funny illustrations that go along with the decodable and rhyming text.
Sound Out Chapter Books– This series of books use short vowels and then long vowels for realistic fiction stories. The series also has nonfiction books.
Simple Words Books– This set of chapter books have a mix of basic phonics patterns including short and long vowels. The books have short sentences to not overwhelm beginning readers.