Decodable Books for structured literacy

Do you use decodable books in your classroom? When I made the sharp turn from balanced to structured literacy, a big concern of mine was acquiring and gathering enough decodable books for my classroom. I had spent over twelve years gathering leveled books. Suddenly, I felt like my massive classroom library was not meeting the needs of my beginning readers. And, as I continued to learn more about how important it is for the brain to learn how to read in a systematic, explicit manner…I realized it WASN’T meeting my students’ needs. Our beginning readers need books that allow them to practice connecting sounds to the written letters on the page. Daily practice with connected text is necessary for students to gain fluency and accuracy while learning to read. (You can read about my personal science of reading journey in this previous blog post.)

Decodable books allow our students to do just that! When a book contains the phonics patterns that your students have learned already, they are powerful for productive reading practice! Over the past few years, I have spent a great deal of time reviewing, sampling, buying, and reading tons of decodable books from various authors and publishers. In this post, I’ll share a big list of decodable books, links where you can find them, and my personal likes and dislikes for each set.

I hope you find this list of decodable books helpful and convenient! Be sure to sign up within the blog post for TWO FREE DECODABLE BOOKS that I’ll send straight to your email list. Happy book browsing!

(This blog post includes some Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. This just means that my blog receives a tiny compensation if you click on these links- at absolutely no extra charge to you.)

Miss DeCarbo Decode and draw Books

I’m going to start this big list off with my own decodable books! I currently have a growing series of decodable books called the Decode and Draw Series. Hundreds of teachers have let me know how helpful and popular these printable books have been in their classrooms! Each set of Decode and Draw books contains a variety of printable books that are only five pages in length. They print double sided and fold SO EASILY, which means the prep work is slim to none! These books have a very special feature – there are NO PICTURES! You may be asking…why?

I created these books for students I was teaching who were relying all too heavily on the illustrations while reading. These students were trying to guess words based on the pictures on each page. Instead of taking sticky notes and covering up the pages in our books, I decided to write my own books without pictures! This feature requires readers to depend entirely on decoding and the text on the page while reading. Then, students get to be the illustrators and draw their own pictures as they display their comprehension skills!

The last page of each book contains an interactive word work page. Students will say the picture (a teacher key is printed on the back of each book). Then, the students will tap the sounds for the picture using the elkonin boxes at the top of the page. Finally, the students will spell the word for each picture on the corresponding line. Decoding and encoding practice all in one book? Yes, please! You can click the button below to check out the Decode and Draw CVC pack in my shop. I also have packs currently available for DIGRAPHS and FLOSS WORDS & SUFFIXES. Additional packs will be released over the 2023 school year!

Miss DeCarbo mini decodable Books

How many times have you wished you had decodable books that you could easily send home with students? Maybe you’ve also wished for decodable books that your students could highlight, circle words in, and mark up? That’s exactly what my pack of over 50 Decodable Phonics Mini Books contains! These books print on one-side and entirely on ONE PAGE. Yes, you read that right. Simply print, fold, and read! I absolutely love using these decodable books to focus in the specific phonics sound we are working on or practicing within our lesson. You can find the pack of over 50 books below:

Each Phonics Mini Book has a word list, a decodable sentence list, and a short story on the back. This makes it easy to scaffold instruction by starting at the isolated word level and moving to connected text!

Would you like to get TWO FREE BOOKS as part of my decodable book sampler pack? I would love for you to try them out, so that you can see how versatile and wonderful they are to use with your readers! Sign up in the form below, and I’ll send two free books straight to your inbox:

Syllasense Decodable Books

SyllaSense Books were some of the first decodable books I fell in love with! Many of the books within each set have a paired fiction and nonfiction book. It can be difficult to find quality nonfiction text that is decodable for beginning readers. I appreciate the real photographs in SyllaSense Books, as well as the content.

SyllaSense reminds us that we don’t have to sacrifice meaning and give up rich discussions when we use decodable texts with our students. You can visit their website below and see some digital samples of their books:

Just Right Reader books

My principal was the one who introduced me to Just Right Reader books! We loved the amount of books that came in each set, and our kids really seem to love the stories in these well written decodables. As I’m writing this blog post, my own son is in first grade, and he is reading his way through these decodable books. I love the vocabulary he is introduced to, and he loves the preview videos that are included on the back of each book.

On the back of each Just Right Reader book is a QR code. Parents (or teachers) can scan the QR code and watch a mini video introduction before reading the book. The Just Right Reader teacher within the video will give an intro summary and explicitly present the phonics focus sounds that the child will encounter when reading the book. It’s a GREAT way to help parents feel successful when working with their children at home!

half pint books

Half-Pint Books are another favorite of mine! Our kindergarten team is getting duplicate sets for their classrooms next year because the kids have really seemed to enjoy the stories and the characters of these little books! The price is reasonable for the amount of books you receive, and we appreciate how the digital version of the books are available for free on their website. The teacher is able to present the book to the entire class during a connected text lesson, and then use the printed book at the small group table.

The one confusing aspect of Half-Pint Books is the way they label their sets. Their sets are named Level A, Level B, and Level C books. These levels do NOT represent text levels like Fountas and Pinnell levels or guided reading levels. It is just the way they decided to split up the three main difficulty levels on their website. Don’t let the labels confuse you- there is no leveling of text happening in Half-Pint Books! We really love them!

Geodes Decodable Books

I often get asked, “If you could buy any set of decodable books from a publisher, what would it be?” Hands-down, Geodes Decodable Books have been my favorite so far. I’ve been able to use sample books with my son and in my reading intervention lessons. They are absolutely GORGEOUS decodable books. The photographs and illustrations are beautiful, but what I love most is the CONTENT found within these books. Unlike some decodable books, which can have shallow storylines, Geodes so beautifully crafted decodable text with rich plots and interesting information to read about. They are perfect for building background knowledge and building new knowledge while learning to read.

The con? The price. Geodes Decodable Books are expensive. There is no sugar coating it. An individual teacher or parent could likely never afford to purchase these books on their own. This is a set of books that you’ll need your district by your side for. If you can make it happen, though, I think these stunning books are worth it!

Whole Phonics

Our first grade teachers received sets of Whole Phonics books for this year, and the students love the stories! The pictures are adorable and the characters are loveable. I also appreciate how the characters within each set are presented multiple times to the students.

The one gripe I have with Whole Phonics books is the font they were published in. The font feels messy and distracting to us. The kids have quickly adjusted and got used to reading it, but the print is not my favorite. If I could wave a magic wand, the font is what I would change within these books.

FlyLeaf Decodable Books

Flyleaf Decodable Books were the first sets of books we ever received in my district. I appreciate that you get a lot of books for the price. The books are engaging and well written. The books gradually grow in difficulty- not only in the skill level of the words but in the amount of text, too.

The students I have used these books with love the illustrations. These are not ranked as my favorite books because of the scope and sequence that these books follow. The first two books start off with Sam as a main character. Personally, I find that starting off a connected text experience with a nasalized a sound can be a little difficult to a struggling reader when compared to a book that has a true short a sound. Nevertheless, Flyleaf Decodables are still books that I will continue to reach for when we need additional connected text and practice.

Frog Series heggerty Books

The Frog Series is a very small set of decodable books that can be found on the Heggerty website. We ordered these books to try them out since we use Heggerty within our Tier 1 core program. These little books are charming, but I find that they are too difficult for my beginning readers. I would begin using these with my more advanced first graders during the second half of the year, or with our second graders.

Toucan Series Heggerty Books

The Toucan Series is also from Heggerty. These books have been great for our older readers who are still working on closing up phonics gaps within their reading journey. The illustrations are bright and colorful. The stories are engaging. The website claims that the Toucan Series is suited for Grades 2 and up. My struggling second graders would find these books to be too difficult, but they would be great for older readers.

Learning Dynamics Decodable Books

I debated whether or not to include the Learning Dynamics Books in my blog post, but they come with a personal story for me! When the shut down hit during Covid, I found suddenly found myself with time to sit down and start teaching Sawyer how to read myself. I ordered this book set off of Amazon because it was relatively cost effective for the amount of books a parent could receive in a short amount of time. This is the decodable reader set that my son first learned to read with!

The books feel “old school” to me and the pictures leave some to be desired, but for some reason, Sawyer LOVED these books! I actually found myself taking them into the classroom after my maternity leave ended and using them with my struggling first graders. Once again, the kids in my small groups LOVED them! The small amount of text on the page, clean and bold font, and easy to follow stories make these little books engaging and motivating for struggling readers. The kids I have used these books with finish a book feeling confident and proud of themselves!

dog on a log books

Dog on a Log Books were purchased for our older students who are struggling to decode still. I love these books, which are available on Amazon, because they feel like chapter books. Each book is the size of a typical chapter book, but contains easy to read text. Older students who want to “fit in” with their peers when it comes to reading chapter books can reach for these and not feel as though they are reading a book written for young kids.

primary phonics books

Primary Phonics Books are actually not my favorite, but I’m including them in this list because I had purchased the set of them for my first grade classroom. Why? I was able to receive a TON of books for a low-cost when compared to other decodable book sets. I really like this set if you are looking for a way to bulk up your decodable book library. They also make excellent books to send home for practice. The scope and sequence of these books feels a bit “all over the place” to me, but the red short vowel set worked really well for our independent book bins!

decoding practice is powerful!

Thank you so much for checking out my list of decodable books. I hope you were were able to learn about a new series, or check out some samples from some of the publishers that were mentioned. Remember, decodable books may seem a bit “boring” to adults, but to a child learning how to read, they are NEVER boring! When our students can access the text, they are confident, capable readers, and that is something that will never get old to them! Happy reading, teacher-friend! Be sure to pin and share this blog post with your colleagues by using the image below:

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