Learning more about the science of reading and how children really learn to read, I know now how important decodable books are for young readers. This blog post is all about kindergarten decodable books, how to use them, and where to find them.
Why Use Kindergarten Decodable Books?
Children need explicit phonics instruction in order to learn how to read. They need to learn how the letters sound and how to blend the sounds together. Then, they need to learn the different rules that English has so they can read all kinds of words. Decodable books help isolate these skills for students so that they can successfully and independently read books. Kindergarten decodable books should start with very simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words that children have been taught to blend and sound out. Decodable books give the students the chance to practice the phonics skills they have learned by reading words with those exact phonics rules. I’ve seen my students read kindergarten decodable books and they are so proud of themselves that they can sound out the words themselves.
Do All Students Need Kindergarten Decodable Books?
Not all students will need the simpler CVC kindergarten decodable books, like your more advanced readers. However, I would argue that all students can benefit from reading decodable books. Teachers need to see what phonics skills their students are missing – what words are tricky for them to read independently. Then they can teach that phonics skill in a small group with the more advanced readers and then give them a decodable book that features that phonics skills to practice it. Decodable books are a great way to bridge the more abstract phonics skill to the concrete words in front of them. This will help them be able to read them correctly and independently in other books.
Not sure what else to do with advanced readers? Try a kindergarten book club!
How Should Decodable Books Progress?
Kindergarten decodable books should follow the phonics scope and sequence that the children are learning. They should start with very simple CVC words that focus on one short vowel and then progress to mixing up CVC words with short vowel sounds. After successfully reading short vowel CVC words, children can try decodable readers with glued sounds, like -an, -am, -all, and blends. Then students can try blends, and then move on to digraphs and then the silent-e words. After those words, decodable readers, would include words with r-controlled vowels and then vowel digraphs and dipthongs. These books would be more for first or second grade at this point. The words that feature the later skills, like silent e or r-controlled vowels, shouldn’t show up in earlier kindergarten decodable books, because the children won’t be able to successfully read them.
You can get my free phonics scope and sequence for kindergarten and first grade here.
Where to find decodable books?
I was tired of waiting around to be given decodable readers for my classroom, so I made some! You can get them here! I like how they follow the decodable readers progression. I love how you can use the provided letter tiles to make words before reading the book. More on how I teach my decodable books below!
There are lots of other great places to get decodable books. These are some that I have bought on Amazon for my classroom (linked to my Amazon storefront). I remember reading Bob Books when I was a kid so I definitely had to get some for my class!
Another great publisher of decodable books is Flyleaf Publishing. I use these books in my classroom. For the 2022-23 school year, their digital materials are free to use to project on the screen and read as a class! There is also an option for homework, but I haven’t tried this personally.
I also use SPIRE books in my classroom. I know a lot of the special education teachers in my school love them as well.
Finally, I like to use Half-Pint’s books with my whole class by projecting the digital book on the screen and then we decode it together. They have great decodable books, and it is such a bonus that their digital books are free to use!
What Does a Kindergarten Decodable Book Lesson Look Like?
When I am teaching a new decodable book with my students I either teach the phonics skill or give my students a chance to build words with the phonics skill that is practiced in the book. For example, for the book Jud the Bug, I have the students cut out the letter tiles and make CVC words with the short-u.
If they need more guidance, I tell them the word to start with. Then we tap out the three sounds in the word and then they find those letters. When they make the word, we read the word and then they write the word in their word bank. I often then tell them to make a new word by switching one of the sounds. For example, they have the word “bug” and then I’ll say, change “bug” to make “mug” and they have to figure out to change the first sound to an “m”.
After exploring with the phonics and making the words, the students are ready to start reading! They are warmed up to sound out the words in the book because they already built, read, and spelled so many of them! They read individually and I listen in to them reading. I help them remember to sound out the word if they are stuck. After they are done, I show them some of the words that were tricky to the group, and we sound them out together. Then, I ask them a few questions about the book to work on comprehension. After we are done reading, I like to give the book to the students to keep practicing on their own.
Kindergarten decodable books are a must have to teach reading in kindergarten because they let students read successfully, independently, and correctly. Kindergarten decodable books should be an integral part of reading groups. They should be used to reinforce the phonics skills students have been learning in class. Get my kindergarten decodable book bundle here!
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