How to choose a good phonics reading scheme

If you are thinking of using a phonics reading scheme of decodable books, you may be wondering how to choose one. Here are some questions you should be asking:

1. Is the overall phonic progression in the scheme clear? (It should be.)

2. Is the phonic focus of each book clear? (It should be.)

3. Can children read the story by guessing words from the illustrations or do they have to decode the words to read the story? (Readers should be encouraged to decode not guess.)

4. Is the text repetitive so children can guess it? (It should not be. Children are clever at figuring out what is coming next.)

5. Are there many high frequency words that the children cannot read at the early levels and are they repeated again and again? (High frequency words should be introduced in a gradual way, starting with those which are more decodable (e.g has, is). This way, children get in the habit of decoding not guessing.)

6. Are there enough books at each level to enable practice and consolidation? (Most children need some practice of new phonemes learned. Having more than one book at each level is an advantage.)

7. Are the books fun to read? Do the children want to read them? (Children should enjoy reading. Even a structured phonic scheme should be motivating and fun.)


  1. This website is enormously helpful to me. I work with emergent as well as extremely reluctant readers. I am constantly looking for ways to inspire and motivate my students. Your suggestions were quite helpful. I look forward to revisiting this site again. Many thanks. mary

  2. Hi there,
    This blog is a result of many years of teaching children to read in mainstream and special needs setting. All three of us are still teaching children at the Bloomfield Learning Centre, even though we are also involved in training and in publishing books. When we write items for the blog we always relate it to our experience of teaching children to read particularly those who struggle.
    Glad you like the blog.
    Best wishes,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

UK schools & organisations wishing to order by invoice, please read the information regarding our new process. Dismiss