Your Ultimate List of Free Decodable Books and Readers

By Jen Jones

Your Ultimate List of Free Decodable Books and Readers


If you're seeking decodable books free printables to help your young reader succeed, you're in the right place. Decodable books are an essential tool in phonics-based learning, enabling children to decode words using the phonetic skills they've been taught.

Here’s where you can quickly find free decodable books:

  1. offers various free, printable decodable books.

Decodable books are meticulously crafted to align with phonics instruction, focusing on specific letter-sound relationships to help young readers practice and reinforce their skills. As a former skeptic turned advocate of decodable books, I understand their transformative power. These books take students from laborious decoding to fluent reading, building confidence and improving comprehension.

These books are more than just reading materials; they're a bridge to reading success. When children practice decoding regularly, they become fluent readers more quickly, freeing up mental space for comprehension. High-quality decodable books, paired with engaging illustrations, make learning to read an enjoyable experience for young learners.

The process of how decodable books help in phonics learning - decodable books free printables infographic pyramid-hierarchy-5-steps

What Are Decodable Books?

Decodable books are specialized reading materials designed to help children practice and master phonics skills. Unlike traditional books, which may include a mix of phonetic patterns, decodable books focus on a specific set of sounds and spelling rules. This makes them ideal for beginners who are just starting to learn how to read.


Decodable books are structured to align with a phonics-based approach to reading. They introduce one phonetic sound or pattern at a time, allowing children to practice and master each new concept before moving on to the next. For example, a book might focus solely on short vowel sounds, like "a" in "cat" or "e" in "bed," ensuring that the text is accessible and manageable for early readers.

Phonics Skills

Phonics skills are the foundation of reading development. These skills involve understanding how letters and combinations of letters represent specific sounds. Decodable books are crafted to reinforce these skills by providing numerous opportunities for children to apply what they've learned. For instance, a decodable book focusing on the short "a" sound might include words like "cat," "bat," and "mat," helping children to recognize and decode these words with ease.

Reading Development

Decodable books play a crucial role in reading development. By offering controlled text that aligns with a child’s current phonics knowledge, these books help to build reading fluency and confidence. When children can successfully decode words, they experience a sense of achievement, which motivates them to keep reading. Over time, this practice leads to improved reading comprehension and overall literacy.

Child reading decodable book - decodable books free printables

Understanding the value of decodable books is the first step in helping your child or students become confident readers. The next section will guide you on how to access these valuable resources for free.

Benefits of Using Decodable Books

Phonics Application

Decodable books are designed to reinforce the phonics skills that children are learning. They use consistent and predictable patterns, making it easier for young readers to decode words. For example, a book focused on the short 'a' sound will have plenty of words like "cat," "bat," and "hat." This targeted practice helps solidify their understanding of phonics rules.

Reading Fluency

Reading fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly, and with proper expression. Initially, decoding can be slow and laborious for young readers. However, as they practice with decodable books, their speed and accuracy improve. According to the Simple View of Reading, fluency acts as a bridge between decoding and comprehension. The more fluent a reader becomes, the more cognitive resources they can allocate to understanding the text.


When children first start reading, their mental energy is often consumed by decoding individual words. Decodable books help alleviate this by providing text that matches their phonics skills. As their decoding becomes more automatic, they can focus more on understanding the story. Each decodable book often includes pictures and comprehension questions to help students engage with the text on a deeper level.

Confidence Building

Successfully reading a book is a huge confidence booster for young readers. When children can decode words and understand the text, they feel a sense of achievement. This positive experience motivates them to read more, creating a virtuous cycle of improvement. As one teacher noted, "Decoding is only half the story. When students apply these skills outside the literacy block, like reading math word problems, their confidence soars."

Understanding the value of decodable books is the first step in helping your child or students become confident readers. The next section will guide you on how to access these valuable resources for free.

How to Access Free Decodable Books

Finding free decodable books has never been easier. With a variety of online resources, printable PDFs, and free downloads available, you can quickly gather a treasure trove of reading materials for your students or children. Here’s how you can access these resources:

Online Resources

Many websites offer free decodable books that you can read directly online or download for offline use. Hello Decodables provides a comprehensive library of free, printable decodable books that you can access by subscribing to their freebie library.

Printable PDFs

If you prefer printed materials, Hello Decodables offers printable PDFs of decodable books. These can be downloaded and printed, covering various phonics skills and are highly engaging for young readers.

Free Downloads

Hello Decodables also allows you to download decodable books for free. By subscribing to their freebie library, you can access a wide range of decodable books focusing on different phonics skills. These are perfect for both classroom and home use.

Tips for Accessing Free Decodable Books

  1. Sign Up for Newsletters: Subscribe to Hello Decodables' newsletter to receive updates and new materials directly in your inbox.

  2. Check Hello Decodables Website: Regularly visit the Hello Decodables website for new additions to their free resources.

  3. Join Hello Decodables Online Community: Engage with the Hello Decodables online community on platforms like their official social media pages to share experiences and find support from other educators and parents.

Top 10 Free Decodable Books and Readers

1. My Cat Sam

Phonics Focus: Short 'a'
Why We Love It: This printable story is engaging and simple, making it perfect for early readers. The repetitive text helps reinforce the short 'a' sound, building phonics skills and confidence.

2. Peg the Vet

Phonics Focus: Short 'e'
Why We Love It: Peg the Vet features simple text and fun illustrations that captivate young readers. It’s a great tool for practicing the short 'e' sound in a meaningful context.

3. Jim in the Inn

Phonics Focus: Short 'i'
Why We Love It: Easy to read and packed with phonics practice, Jim in the Inn helps students master the short 'i' sound. The straightforward storyline keeps readers engaged.

4. Bob's Box

Phonics Focus: Short 'o'
Why We Love It: Bob's Box offers decodable text that sparks student interest. The story is not only fun but also reinforces the short 'o' sound effectively.

5. Gus the Pup

Phonics Focus: Short 'u'
Why We Love It: This book provides repetitive practice with the short 'u' sound. Gus the Pup is excellent for building reading confidence, thanks to its simple and predictable text.

6. The Red Cat

Phonics Focus: Short vowels
Why We Love It: The Red Cat offers slightly more complex text, ideal for readers ready to move beyond basic short vowels. It’s perfect for achieving mastery in phonics.

7. It is a Pet

Phonics Focus: Sight words
Why We Love It: This sight word book is designed for early readers, featuring simple sentences with common sight words. It's an excellent resource for building early reading skills.

8. Sam Cat

Phonics Focus: Short vowels
Why We Love It: Beginner-friendly, Sam Cat contains 1-3 words per page, making it perfect for new readers. The short vowel focus helps solidify foundational phonics skills.

9. Hello Decodables

Phonics Focus: Structured approach
Why We Love It: Hello Decodables offers a structured, Science of Reading-aligned approach. These books are designed for phonics success, making them a valuable addition to any reading program.

1. My Cat Sam

Phonics Focus: Short a
Why We Love It: "My Cat Sam" is a delightful, printable decodable book designed to engage young readers while focusing on the short 'a' sound.

This book is part of a series that aims to make phonics practice enjoyable and effective. With its simple, yet engaging storyline, "My Cat Sam" captures the interest of early readers. The text is filled with decodable CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, making it an excellent tool for reinforcing phonics skills.

Printable and Easy to Use: You can print this book using just two sheets of paper. After printing, simply cut and staple the pages together. It's a low-prep option that saves time while providing high-quality reading practice.

Engaging Storyline: The story of Sam the cat is not only easy to read but also fun, making it perfect for young readers who are just starting to decode words. The repetitive practice helps in building confidence and fluency.

Next, we'll delve into some practical tips for printing these decodable books to make the most of your resources.

2. Peg the Vet

Peg the Vet is a fantastic choice for young readers focusing on the short e sound. This decodable book combines simple text with fun illustrations to engage students and make learning enjoyable.

Simple Text

The story in "Peg the Vet" is designed with short, decodable words and straightforward sentences. This makes it perfect for early readers who are just starting to master phonics. The use of mostly decodable CVC words and familiar sight words ensures that students have a nearly-perfect reading practice experience. This kind of repetitive practice is essential for building reading fluency and boosting confidence.

Fun Illustrations

Visuals are a big part of what makes "Peg the Vet" so engaging. The illustrations are not only fun but also support the text, helping students understand the story better. According to Anna Geiger, these decodable readers are crafted with engaging and fun texts that keep students interested while they practice reading. The illustrations add an extra layer of enjoyment and comprehension, making it easier for students to connect with the material.

Why It Works

The combination of simple text and fun illustrations creates an effective learning tool. By focusing on the short e sound, "Peg the Vet" provides targeted phonics practice that is both educational and entertaining. This aligns with the Science of Reading, which emphasizes explicit phonics instruction as a key component of effective reading education.

Next, we'll look at "Jim in the Inn," another excellent resource for practicing short vowel sounds.

3. Jim in the Inn

"Jim in the Inn" is a fantastic decodable book designed to help young readers practice the short i sound. It's easy to read, making it perfect for beginners who are just starting their phonics journey.

Why It Works

Easy to Read: This book uses simple, straightforward text that is accessible to early readers. The sentences are short and repetitive, which helps students build confidence as they read.

Phonics Practice: The primary focus of "Jim in the Inn" is on words containing the short i sound. This targeted practice is crucial for mastering phonics skills. According to the Science of Reading, explicit phonics instruction is essential for developing strong reading abilities.

Engaging Storyline

The story is engaging and keeps students interested, which is vital for maintaining their focus. The plot is simple yet captivating, ensuring that children remain engaged while practicing their phonics skills.

Teaching Tips

  • Repetition: Encourage students to read the book multiple times. Repetition helps reinforce the short i sound and improves fluency.
  • Illustrations: Use the illustrations to help students understand the context of the story. This can also aid in comprehension and retention.

By incorporating "Jim in the Inn" into your reading curriculum, you provide students with valuable phonics practice in an enjoyable and accessible format.

Next, we’ll explore "Bob's Box," another great resource for practicing short vowel sounds.

4. Bob's Box

Bob's Box is a fantastic decodable book focused on the short o sound. This book is designed to help young readers practice their phonics skills in an engaging and effective way.

Short o Sound

The story of "Bob's Box" revolves around simple, decodable text that emphasizes the short o sound. Words like "box," "dog," and "log" are used repeatedly to help students recognize and pronounce this vowel sound. This kind of targeted practice is crucial for building a strong foundation in phonics.

Decodable Text

The text in "Bob's Box" is carefully crafted to be mostly decodable, featuring CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. This means that students can read the majority of the words independently, which boosts their confidence and reinforces their learning. The inclusion of a few sight words and new vocabulary ensures the story remains interesting and engaging.

Student Interest

Keeping students interested is key to effective learning. "Bob's Box" achieves this with a fun and relatable storyline. Bob's adventures with his box capture the imagination of young readers, making phonics practice feel like an exciting activity rather than a chore.

Teaching Tips

  • Interactive Reading: Encourage students to act out parts of the story or use props like a small box to make the reading session more interactive.
  • Word Hunt: Have students go on a "word hunt" in the book to find all the words with the short o sound. This can be a fun and educational game.
  • Illustrations: Use the illustrations in the book to discuss what is happening in the story. This helps with comprehension and keeps students engaged.

By incorporating "Bob's Box" into your reading curriculum, you provide students with valuable phonics practice while keeping them interested and motivated.

Next, we’ll dive into "Gus the Pup," another excellent resource for reinforcing short vowel sounds.

5. Gus the Pup

"Gus the Pup" is a fantastic resource for practicing the short u sound. This decodable book is designed to provide repetitive practice, which is crucial for helping young readers master phonics skills.

Why "Gus the Pup" Works

Repetitive Practice: The book features a high frequency of short u words, like "pup," "run," and "fun." This repetition helps students internalize the short u sound, making it easier for them to recognize and decode similar words in other texts.

Confidence Building: Because the text is mostly decodable with a few familiar sight words, students can read "Gus the Pup" with a high level of accuracy. This success builds their confidence, encouraging them to tackle more challenging texts.

How to Use "Gus the Pup"

  • Read Aloud: Start by reading the book aloud to your students, emphasizing the short u sound. This will help them tune their ears to the specific phonics pattern.
  • Guided Reading: Have students read the book in small groups or one-on-one settings. Offer support and correct any mistakes immediately to reinforce learning.
  • Independent Reading: Once students are comfortable, let them read "Gus the Pup" independently. This will help them build fluency and confidence.

Activities to Reinforce Learning

  • Sound Hunt: Ask students to go on a "sound hunt" in the book, finding and listing all the short u words they can.
  • Illustration Discussion: Use the illustrations to talk about the story. Ask questions like, "What is Gus doing?" to help with comprehension and engagement.
  • Writing Practice: Have students write their own sentences or short stories using short u words. This reinforces the phonics skill and allows for creative expression.

By incorporating "Gus the Pup" into your reading curriculum, you provide students with valuable phonics practice that builds both skills and confidence.

Next, we’ll explore "The Red Cat," a book that focuses on mastering short vowel sounds through more complex text.

6. The Red Cat

"The Red Cat" is a fantastic resource for students who are ready to tackle more complex text while mastering short vowel sounds. This book builds on the foundation of simpler decodable books, allowing young readers to apply their phonics skills in a more challenging context.

Short Vowel Focus

"The Red Cat" emphasizes short vowel sounds, which are crucial for early reading development. Each page is designed to reinforce these sounds, helping students recognize and pronounce them correctly. This targeted practice ensures that students gain a strong grasp of short vowels, a fundamental component of phonics.

Complex Text for Advanced Practice

Unlike beginner decodable books that feature 1-3 words per page, "The Red Cat" offers more intricate sentences and a richer vocabulary. This complexity encourages students to apply their phonics knowledge in a real reading context, promoting fluency and comprehension.

For example, a sentence from the book might read:

"The red cat sat on the mat and had a nap."

Such sentences provide students with the opportunity to decode multiple short vowel words within a single sentence, enhancing their reading skills.

Mastery Through Repetition and Engagement

Mastery of phonics requires consistent practice and engagement. "The Red Cat" is designed to keep young readers interested with an engaging storyline and colorful illustrations. This combination ensures that students remain motivated to read, which is essential for mastering new skills.

Classroom and Home Use

Teachers and parents can use "The Red Cat" to support reading development both in the classroom and at home. Here are a few tips:

  • Read Aloud: Read the book aloud with students, emphasizing the short vowel sounds.
  • Discussion: Ask questions about the story to improve comprehension. For example, "What did the red cat do on the mat?"
  • Writing Exercises: Encourage students to write their own short stories using the short vowel sounds featured in the book.

By integrating "The Red Cat" into your reading program, you provide a valuable resource that helps students transition from simple to more complex texts, solidifying their phonics skills and boosting their reading confidence.

Next, we’ll look at "It is a Pet," a sight word book perfect for early readers with simple sentences.

7. It is a Pet

"It is a Pet" is a fantastic sight word book ideal for early readers. This book focuses on simple sentences, making it easy for young children to grasp and read independently.

Key Features:

  • Sight Words: This book uses common sight words such as "the," "is," "a," and "pet," which are essential for building a foundation in reading.
  • Early Readers: Designed specifically for early readers, the text is simple and repetitive, helping children recognize and remember words quickly.
  • Simple Sentences: Each page features straightforward sentences like "It is a pet" or "The pet is big." This simplicity helps children decode the text without becoming overwhelmed.

Why "It is a Pet" Works:

  1. Repetition: The repetitive nature of the text reinforces word recognition and builds reading confidence.
  2. Engaging Illustrations: The accompanying pictures provide context clues that help children understand the story, making reading more enjoyable.
  3. Phonics Practice: While focusing on sight words, this book also allows children to practice phonics skills in a meaningful context.

Real-Life Success:

Khadeeja, a homeschooling mom from South Africa, found similar decodable books invaluable. She mentioned, "Books like these that the kids are just going to use for a short bit before moving on to more complex readers just seemed like a waste to spend so much money on. They are amazingly beautiful and so professional!"

By incorporating "It is a Pet" into your reading curriculum, you provide an engaging and effective resource for early readers to practice sight words and simple sentence structures.

Next, we'll explore "Sam Cat," another excellent book focusing on short vowels and beginner-friendly text.

8. Sam Cat

Sam Cat is perfect for beginner readers. This decodable book focuses on short vowels and is designed to be very beginner-friendly.


  • Short Vowels: The book primarily uses short vowel sounds, making it easier for kids to understand and practice.
  • Beginner-Friendly: The text is simple, with only 1-3 words per page.
  • Engaging Story: Despite the simplicity, the story is engaging and helps kids stay interested.

Why Choose "Sam Cat"?

  1. Confidence Building: With only a few words per page, kids won't feel overwhelmed. This helps build their confidence as they successfully read each page.

  2. Focused Learning: By concentrating on short vowels, children can master these sounds before moving on to more complex texts.

  3. Ease of Use: The simple structure makes it easy for parents and teachers to guide young readers through the book.

Example Page: - "Sam cat." - "Sam sat."

These short sentences are easy for kids to decode and understand, making "Sam Cat" a great choice for early reading practice.

Next, we'll dive into a variety of free Harcourt decodable books that offer comprehensive resources for multiple grades.

9. Free Harcourt Decodable Books

Harcourt decodable books are a treasure trove for educators and parents alike. They offer a variety of books that cater to different grades, making them a comprehensive resource for teaching phonics and reading.

Variety for All Levels

Harcourt's collection spans multiple grade levels, ensuring that there is something for every young reader. Whether you're teaching kindergarten or working with older students who need extra practice, you'll find suitable materials.

Multiple Grades Covered

These books are designed to support students from early readers to more advanced stages. For instance, you might find simple texts for kindergarteners and more complex stories for second graders. This range allows for continuous growth and development in reading skills.

Comprehensive Resources

Each book in the Harcourt series is crafted to reinforce specific phonics skills. This systematic approach helps children build a strong foundation in reading. Plus, many of these books come with supplementary materials like worksheets and fluency charts, providing a well-rounded learning experience.

Example Titles: - "Pam's Hat" (Kindergarten) - "The Big Trip" (1st Grade) - "A Day at the Zoo" (2nd Grade)

These titles offer engaging stories while focusing on phonics skills appropriate for each grade level.

Next, we'll explore the structured approach and phonics success with Hello Decodables.

10. Hello Decodables

Hello Decodables stands out for its structured approach to teaching phonics, aligning closely with the principles of the Science of Reading. This method ensures that students gain a solid understanding of how letters and sounds work together, which is crucial for reading success.

Structured Approach

Each Hello Decodables lesson is designed to be systematic and explicit. The program follows a simple to complex scope and sequence, ensuring that students master foundational skills before moving on to more advanced concepts. This structured approach is backed by the National Reading Panel Report (2000) and the National Early Literacy Panel Report (2008), which emphasize the importance of systematic phonics instruction.

Phonics Success

Hello Decodables’ lessons are not just about phonics. They integrate phonemic awareness, sight words, decoding, spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension. Each lesson set focuses on one phonics skill and is completed over three 20-minute sessions. This comprehensive approach ensures that students are not only learning to decode words but also understanding their meaning and usage in context.

Science of Reading

The Science of Reading research supports the idea that phonics-based learning is the most effective way to teach reading. According to recent studies, explicit, systematic instruction in phonics is crucial for developing skilled readers. Hello Decodables leverages this research, providing numerous opportunities for students to practice new skills while reinforcing previously taught concepts.

Why Choose Hello Decodables?

  • Research-Based: Aligns with the Science of Reading principles.
  • Comprehensive: Covers phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and more.
  • Engaging: Fun and interactive lessons that keep students interested.
  • Effective: Proven to help students achieve reading success through structured practice.

By incorporating Hello Decodables into your teaching toolkit, you can ensure that your students are on the path to becoming confident, skilled readers.

Next, we'll discuss how to print decodable books effectively.

How to Print Decodable Books

Printing decodable books can be simple and straightforward if you follow a few key steps. Here’s how to do it:

Printing Tips

  1. Choose the Right Paper: Use standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper for most printable decodable books. For a more durable book, consider using heavier paper or cardstock.

  2. Set Your Printer: Ensure your printer settings are configured for the best quality. Select “Best” or “High Quality” in your printer settings to ensure the text and images are clear.

  3. Double-Sided Printing: If your printer supports double-sided printing, enable this feature to save paper and create a more book-like feel.

  4. Color vs. Black and White: Decide if you want to print in color or black and white. Colorful illustrations can be more engaging for young readers, but black and white is more economical.

Advanced Settings

  • Scale to Fit: Make sure the document is scaled to fit the page. This prevents any text or images from being cut off.
  • Page Orientation: Check the orientation (portrait or landscape) as specified in the printable document to ensure all pages are correctly aligned.

Foldable Versions

Many decodable books come in a foldable format, which is convenient for creating mini-books. Here’s how to assemble them:

  1. Print the Document: Ensure you follow the printing tips above for the best results.

  2. Fold the Pages: Once printed, fold the pages in half along the designated lines. This will create a booklet form.

  3. Staple the Spine: Use a stapler to secure the folded pages along the spine. This helps keep the pages together and makes it easier for children to handle.

  4. Trim Excess Paper: If there are any uneven edges, use scissors to trim them for a neat finish.

By following these steps, you can create high-quality, engaging decodable books for your learners. Properly printed decodable books not only look professional but also enhance the reading experience for young readers.

Next, let's look at some frequently asked questions about decodable books.

Frequently Asked Questions about Decodable Books

How do I print a decodable book?

Printing decodable books can be straightforward if you follow these tips:

  1. Use Advanced Settings: When printing, go to your printer's settings and select "double-sided" or "duplex" printing. This feature saves paper and creates a book-like experience.

  2. Choose Foldable Versions: Many decodable books come in foldable formats. These versions are designed to be printed on a single sheet of paper and then folded into a booklet. This makes it easier for young readers to handle.

  3. High-Quality Paper: Use sturdy, high-quality paper to ensure the book lasts longer. This is especially important for classroom use where books are handled frequently.

  4. Binding Options: Consider using staples or a simple binding method to keep the pages together. This makes it easier for children to flip through the book without losing pages.

What are the disadvantages of decodable books?

While decodable books are excellent for building phonics skills, they do have some drawbacks:

  1. Artificial Language Patterns: Some decodable books use language that can feel unnatural. For example, sentences like "The pig with a wig sat by the rig" are decodable but not something children would encounter in real life.

  2. Robotic Reading: Due to their focus on phonics, the text in decodable books can sometimes lead to choppy or robotic reading. This is because the sentences are designed to reinforce specific phonics skills rather than flow naturally.

Despite these drawbacks, decodable books are still highly effective for early readers. The key is to balance them with more natural texts as children become more proficient.

At what point does a child no longer require decodable books?

Decodable books are a temporary tool designed to build foundational reading skills. Here's when a child might outgrow them:

  1. Individual Needs: Each child is different. Some may need decodable books longer than others, depending on their reading development and confidence levels.

  2. Skill Mastery: Generally, children can move on from decodable books once they have mastered basic phonics skills and can read fluently. This is usually around the middle of second grade or when they can read error-free and automatically at a level J/K in a leveled reading system.

Understanding when to transition from decodable books to more complex texts is crucial for continued reading development. As children become more fluent, they should be introduced to a variety of reading materials to enhance their comprehension and enjoyment of reading.

Next, let’s wrap up with some final thoughts on the importance of decodable books in phonics-based learning.


Decodable books are a game-changer in phonics-based learning. They provide structured, systematic, and explicit instruction, which is crucial for young readers. By focusing on specific phonics skills, decodable books help students build a strong foundation in reading.

At Hello Decodables, we understand the importance of these resources. Our decodable books are designed to make phonics instruction both effective and enjoyable. By offering decodable books free printables, we aim to support teachers and parents in providing high-quality reading materials without breaking the bank.

The benefits of using decodable books are numerous: - Improved Phonics Application: Students get targeted practice on specific phonics skills, reinforcing what they’ve learned. - Enhanced Reading Fluency: Repetitive practice with decodable texts boosts reading speed and accuracy. - Increased Confidence: Perfect or near-perfect reading experiences build self-esteem and encourage a love for reading.

Accessing these resources is easy. You can find a variety of free decodable books online, ready for download and printing. This flexibility allows you to integrate them seamlessly into your teaching routine or at-home learning sessions.

Incorporating decodable books into your reading instruction can make a significant difference. They are an essential tool in your literacy toolkit, helping to unlock reading for every child.

For more information on decodable books and how to use them effectively, visit our comprehensive Guide to Decodable Books.

Happy Teaching!

Love, Bethany


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Link Copied