Decodable books – why they are important

 What are decodable books?

For people who can read – all books are decodable. For children who are learning to read – decodable books are controlled texts that they can decode at each level as they acquire literacy (by sounding out the letters on the page and blending them into words).

 Decodable books are reading exercises

Good phonic programmes will teach children spellings (graphemes) and the sounds they represent. They will also teach children to blend sounds into words when they read and to segment words into sounds when they spell.  Decodable books offer children an opportunity to practice what they have been taught with guaranteed success.  They are simply reading exercises.  We know that practice is the way to internalise knowledge and perfect skills.  Decodable books offer reading practice.

Decodable books develop ‘blending’

‘Blending’ is the most reliable strategy for accurate reading. We want our children to have reliable strategies when they encounter any new word.  We know that good decoding is the foundation of fluent reading.  This is especially important for children from deprived backgrounds and children with reading disabilities.  Decodable books develop good reading strategies.


Why should decodable books be an integral part of any phonics programme?

  • They make sense of phonics
  • They support the phonics lesson
  • They offer practice of reading skills
  • They create success, a sense of achievement and motivation
  • They develop trust and prove that phonics works
  • They develop good, reliable decoding habit

What does a good phonics reading series look like?

    1. It should introduce the graphemes in step-by-step progression so that children can succeed at every level.
    2. At the early stages, multiple books at each level are necessary for practice and consolidation.
    3. The books should be fun and engaging (this is particularly important for older, struggling readers).

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