Phonics Fun: Top Decodable Series for New Readers

By Jen Jones

Phonics Fun: Top Decodable Series for New Readers

Best decodable books for beginning readers are essential tools in early reading instruction. These books, specifically designed to align with phonics instruction, help young readers make significant strides in their literacy journey by focusing on the explicit practice of phonics skills.

Top Decodable Book Series:

  1. Phonic Books - For a structured sequence with incremental progression.
  2. BOB Books - Ideal for building confidence with simple text.
  3. Just Right Reader - Engaging stories with diverse characters.
  4. Read Bright - Beautiful illustrations and comprehensive curriculum materials.
  5. Whole Phonics - Creative and funny stories with high-quality pictures.

When selecting the best decodable books for beginning readers, ensuring they match the child’s phonics skills and reading level is crucial. Decodable books provide a stepping stone to independent reading, where kids can use their growing knowledge of phonics to decode new words progressively.

My name is Jen Jones, a seasoned educator with over 30 years in literacy instruction. Throughout my career, I have developed and implemented numerous structured phonics programs, making decodable books a primary tool in fostering early reading skills in young learners. The best decodable books for beginning readers are ones that excite and engage children while supporting their phonics development in a systematic way.

Benefits of Decodable Books - best decodable books for beginning readers infographic pillar-4-steps

Understanding Decodable Books

Decodable books are specially designed to help new readers practice their phonics skills. They use a controlled vocabulary, which means the words in these books are chosen based on the specific phonics patterns the reader has learned.


A decodable book is one where the text is written using phonics rules that the reader has already been taught. Unlike predictable texts, which rely on repetition and pictures for guessing, decodable books require the reader to apply their knowledge of letter-sound relationships to read the words.


The main purpose of decodable books is to support phonics instruction. They provide young readers with the opportunity to practice decoding words using the phonics skills they are learning. This practice is crucial for developing the ability to read independently and fluently.

"Decodable books are not just about reading; they are about learning to read," says literacy expert Louisa Moats. They are a supplement, not a substitute, for formal reading instruction.

Phonics Skills

Phonics skills include understanding how letters and combinations of letters represent sounds. For example, a child might start with simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words like "cat" and "dog." As they progress, they move on to more complex patterns like vowel digraphs (e.g., "ea" in "beach") and consonant blends (e.g., "bl" in "black").

Explicit Teaching

Explicit teaching involves directly instructing students in the rules and patterns of phonics. Decodable books align with this method by providing texts that students can read using the specific phonics skills they have been taught. For example, the Dandelion Launchers series introduces a few letters and sounds at a time, making it easier for beginners to read independently from the outset.

Phonics practice - best decodable books for beginning readers

Why Decodable Books Matter

Decodable books are essential for reinforcing phonics skills. They allow children to apply what they've learned in a meaningful context, which helps to solidify their understanding and build confidence.

Key Points: - Controlled Vocabulary: Words are chosen based on phonics patterns already learned. - Skill Reinforcement: Provides practice in applying phonics skills. - Confidence Building: Helps readers experience success and progress.

Next, let's dive into how to select the right decodable books for your young readers and explore the benefits they bring.

Best Decodable Books for Beginning Readers

Selecting the Right Decodable Books

Choosing the best decodable books for beginning readers can be a game-changer. Here are key factors to consider:

Phonics Practice: Ensure the book aligns with the phonics skills your students are learning. Books should match the phonics scope and sequence of your curriculum. For example, if students are learning short vowels, the book should focus on words with short vowel sounds.

Incremental Progression: Look for books that progress systematically. As students master one set of phonics skills, the next book should introduce new skills while reinforcing the old ones. Phonic Books' Dandelion Launchers series is a great example, starting with simple sounds and gradually introducing more complex patterns.

Engaging Stories: The text should be interesting and make sense, even with controlled vocabulary. Kids are more likely to stay engaged if the story is compelling. Just Right Reader books are known for their funny stories and diverse characters, making reading enjoyable for kids.

Age Appropriateness: Ensure the content and illustrations are suitable for the age group. Phonic Books offers series for different age groups, from beginner readers to older students who need more practice.

Phonics Scope and Sound-Letter Correspondence: Check if the series covers a comprehensive range of phonics skills. Hello Decodables, for instance, has a structured scope and sequence that covers everything from simple sounds to complex phonics patterns.

Benefits of Decodable Books

Decodable books offer several advantages that support early reading development:

Skill Reinforcement: They provide ample opportunities for students to practice phonics skills in context. For instance, Reading for All Learners offers books that start very slowly, gradually adding letters and sounds to reinforce learning.

Confidence Building: Successfully reading a book boosts a child's confidence. The controlled vocabulary ensures they can decode most words, making them feel accomplished. As one teacher noted, "Many kids get very excited about how decodable text lets them experience real reading and make noticeable progress over time."

Reading Fluency: Regular practice with decodable books helps improve reading fluency. The repetition of phonics patterns and high-frequency words makes reading smoother and more automatic. Whole Phonics books, with their creative and funny stories, are excellent for building fluency while keeping kids entertained.

Engaging Stories: Kids are more likely to read if they enjoy the stories. Read Bright books, for example, are beautifully illustrated and tell interesting stories even with a limited number of phonics patterns. This keeps students engaged and motivated to read more.

By carefully selecting the right decodable books, you can provide young readers with the tools they need to become confident, fluent readers. Next, we’ll explore how to effectively use these books at home and in the classroom.

How to Use Decodable Books Effectively

Integrating Decodable Books into Daily Reading

Home Reading: To make the most of decodable books at home, create a routine. Set aside a specific time each day for reading. This could be right after school or before bedtime. Consistency helps children see reading as a regular part of their day.

Parental involvement is crucial. Sit with your child as they read. Ask them to sound out each word. Praise their efforts and correct gently when needed. The goal is to build confidence and reinforce phonics skills.

Classroom Integration: In the classroom, decodable books can be used during guided reading sessions. Teachers can group students by their reading level and provide books that match their phonics knowledge. This ensures that each child is reading material that is just right for them.

Teacher-Guided Sessions: During these sessions, teachers can model how to sound out words. For example, Linda Farrell from Readsters emphasizes the importance of avoiding context clues like pictures. This helps students focus on the letter-sound correspondences they've been taught.

Enhancing Reading Skills with Decodable Books

Routine Setup: Establish a daily reading routine. This could involve a mix of independent reading, paired reading, and teacher-led sessions. Regular practice is key to making decoding skills automatic.

Sound Out Practice: Encourage students to sound out each word. Louisa Moats, a literacy expert, notes that laborious sounding out is a stepping stone to reading words effortlessly. Practice makes perfect.

Repetition Importance: Repetition is vital. Reading the same book multiple times helps reinforce phonics patterns. As students become more familiar with the words, their reading speed and confidence will improve.

Comprehension Questions: Even though decodable books focus on phonics, comprehension is still important. After reading, discuss the story. Ask questions like, "What happened first?" or "Why did the character do that?" This helps children connect decoding with understanding.

Parental Involvement: Parents can support reading at home by discussing the story and asking comprehension questions. This reinforces what children learn in school and helps build a deeper understanding of the text.

By following these strategies, you can effectively integrate decodable books into daily reading routines and enhance your child's reading skills. Next, we'll answer some frequently asked questions about decodable books to clear up any remaining doubts.

Frequently Asked Questions about Decodable Books

When Should You Start Using Decodable Books?

Decodable books are best introduced once a child has a basic understanding of letter sounds and can blend simple sounds together. This often happens around kindergarten or early first grade. According to Anna Geiger, "The first five books in the pink set only use the sounds a, i, c, p, t, d, m, s, f, n." This means even children who are just beginning to learn phonics can start reading decodable books tailored to their level.

How Do Decodable Books Support Phonics Learning?

Decodable books are designed to align with systematic phonics instruction. They use controlled vocabulary that matches the phonics patterns students are learning. For example, if a child knows short 'a' and a few consonants, their decodable books will feature words like "cat" and "mat." This targeted practice helps reinforce their phonics skills and builds confidence. As Anna Geiger explains, "Systematic, explicit phonics instruction followed by lots of opportunities to practice the new phonics skills in connected text is superior for readers learning to read."

What Makes a Good Decodable Book for Beginners?

A good decodable book for beginners should:

  • Match the student's phonics level: The book should only include words that the student has the skills to decode. This ensures they can read independently without guessing.
  • Sound natural: While the language is controlled, it should still make sense and tell a coherent story. As Jen Jones points out, "You will not find the following decodable sentence in any of her books: 'The pig with a wig sat by the rig and did a jig.'"
  • Engage the reader: Illustrations and engaging content are crucial. Books should be visually appealing and interesting to keep children motivated.
  • Include practice and review: Features like isolated word practice and comprehension questions can reinforce learning. The Hello Literacy series, for example, includes review work and sentences in isolation to aid comprehension.

By choosing the right decodable books, you can provide effective phonics practice that will help young readers build foundational skills and confidence.

Next, let's wrap up with some final thoughts on the importance of decodable books and lifelong reading skills.


Decodable books are a powerful tool in fostering early literacy skills. They offer structured phonics practice that builds a strong foundation for reading fluency. At Hello Decodables, we understand the impact these books can have on a child's reading journey.

Hello Decodables

Our Hello Decodables series is designed to make phonics practice both effective and enjoyable. We offer a range of books that follow a solid scope and sequence, ensuring that each new skill is built upon the last. With color-coded sets, isolated word practice, and comprehension questions, our books are tailored to meet the needs of beginning readers.

Lifelong Reading Skills

Starting with decodable books helps children develop essential reading skills that last a lifetime. The systematic approach ensures that they master phonics patterns, which are crucial for decoding new words. This not only boosts their reading confidence but also sets the stage for more complex reading tasks in the future.

Encouraging Early Literacy

Encouraging early literacy is about more than just teaching children to read; it's about instilling a love for reading. Decodable books with engaging stories and relatable characters make reading a fun and rewarding experience. When children enjoy what they read, they are more likely to become lifelong readers.

Investing in the best decodable books for beginning readers is an investment in their future. By providing them with the right tools and support, we can help them unlock information and imagination that reading offers.

For more information on our decodable books and to start your child's reading journey, check out our digital products. Let's make reading an adventure they will cherish forever.


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