The Best Decodable Books for Boosting Kids’ Reading Skills
If you teach primary grades or work with older striving readers, you’ve likely heard about the value of including decodable texts for kids. Decodable books and other decodable text like collections of sentences or printed passages have tightly controlled demands. They are meant to be matched to kids’ skill development—to include only (or mostly) words with phonics patterns and high-frequency words kids have already been taught. This way, kids get to apply their reading knowledge in real time rather than resorting to guessing at words in a more varied text.
Of course, not all decodable books are created equal. Phonics and reading instruction expert Wiley Blevins advises teachers to choose decodable books that make sense, are closely tied to the skills kids have been taught—and, of course, are enjoyable and engaging enough for kids to want to read them! Since you’re busy, we did the work of tracking down and reviewing some winning choices for decodable books. (Plus, since books are expensive, we also dug up some great free decodable text options too.)
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
Decodable Books Series
Check out our top choices for decodable books from educational publishers.
1. Half-Pint Readers by LuAnn Santillo
We love these for boosting new readers’ confidence. It feels great to be able to read real, colorful books independently. These have well-controlled, manageable text but enough of a plot to have meaningful comprehension discussions too. Plus, they are reasonably priced. Bonus: The titles can be read online for free!
Buy it: Half Pint Readers
2. Just Right Readers
These are great for grade-level teams or intervention programs because they offer a large number of titles to review each phonics skill. Fifty books with CVC words? Yes, please! Kids love the fun content. Bonus: These titles can be read online for free!
Buy it: Just Right Readers
3. Geodes Books
This series aligns to the Wilson Fundations phonics scope and sequence. They prioritize both phonics practice and building background knowledge. Because they include more content words, they are a bit less strictly “decodable” than other series, but the realistic art and high-interest topics are fantastic, as are the teachers’ notes. These are pricey but definitely a good investment.
Buy it: Geodes books
4. Flyleaf Publishing Decodable Books
These are popular for their extremely high quality. There are just a few titles for each skill, but they’re a worthwhile investment for a growing collection. If you’re new to using decodable books or just short on planning time (who isn’t?), the teachers guides are awesome for grab-and-go teaching. Bonus: All 89 decodable books are available to read for free for the 2022-2023 school year!
Buy it: Flyleaf Publishing
5. Phonic Books
This publisher’s series for early readers, Dandelion Readers, is affordable, reliable, and has lots of titles. The “Catch-Up Readers” are a fantastic resource for older striving readers. The illustrations and topics are not at all babyish, but they give upper elementary kids plenty of supportive decoding practice.
Buy it: Phonic Books
6. Whole Phonics Decodable Books
These are sturdy quality books with fun cartoon illustrations and diverse characters that kids like. They are helpful for building kids’ stamina—many of the books are longer than comparable titles from other publishers. This also means there is more to talk about in the stories and lots of repetition too.
Buy it: Whole Phonics
7. Little Learners Love Literacy Decodable Books
These Australian tiles are now available in the United States from The Reading League. They have a range of cute and appealing fiction titles, but we’re most excited about their decodable nonfiction series, “Little Learners, Big World.” Such a great option to have decodable informational books available for kids!
Buy it: Little Learners Love Literacy Books from The Reading League
8. Saddleback Educational Publishing TERL and TwERL Phonics Books
This publisher specializes in hi-lo books for older striving readers. Their phonics books are absolutely fantastic for tweens and teens still working on building and applying phonics skills. They’ve got great photos and age-appropriate topics and humor too.
Buy it: Saddleback Educational Publishing TERL and TwERL Phonics Books
Decodable Trade Books
These choices don’t have the same extensive scope and sequence as those from educational publishers, but they are available from mainstream book retailers. Great if you have gift cards or only want to buy a couple books to try out.
9. Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen
Bob Books are a time-tested choice that’s easy to get your hands on. Older students often dismiss these as babyish, but we do like them for very young kids who are eager to flex their reading muscles and like the silly stories.
Buy it: Bob Books on Amazon
10. The Yak Pack: Comics & Phonics series by Jennifer Makwana
Hooray for decodable comics for kids! The four books in this series cover short vowels, digraphs, blends, and silent e. They are great for supplemental practice. Or suggest them to families to read at home—they include lots of helpful adult guidance.
Buy it: The Yak Pack: Comics & Phonics series on Amazon
11. Meg and Greg books by Elspeth Rae and Rowena Rae
This is a unique choice for shared reading. These books have a fresh and fun chapter book layout. The stories themselves are not controlled for phonics content, but they do have lots of bolded examples of words with the target phonics pattern. Each chapter has several added comic book–style pages that are decodable for kids to read.
Buy it: Meg and Greg books on Amazon
12. Dog on a Log Chapter Books by Pamela Brookes
These books are great for older striving readers who want to feel like they are reading chapter books of a similar size and length as their peers, but still need structured practice applying phonics knowledge. Yes, the stories are a bit contrived, but the strategic captioned illustrations add engagement.
Buy it: Dog on a Log Chapter Books on Amazon
Low-Cost and Free Decodable Books and Texts
If you’re looking to download decodable books or shorter text, check out these options!
13. The Measured Mom decodable books
14. Mrs. Winter’s Bliss decodable passages and decodable books
15. The Literacy Nest’s decodable passages
16. The Reading Elephant printable phonics books
What are your favorite decodable books to use with students? Let us know in the comments!
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