Kindergarten-age children are dipping their toes into the world of reading! Beginning readers need many opportunities to practice decoding (sounding out words) in order for those words to eventually be stored in their long-term memory through the process of orthographic mapping. Decodable books for kindergarten should follow a specific phonics scope and sequence.
The earliest books should include a few words (or a short sentence) on each page, focusing on only one vowel sound. High-frequency words should be limited This can be an exhausting process for children, but as Tom Hanks’ character says in the movie A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard…it’s the hard that makes it great.” The hard work of decoding is what leads to the process of words becoming automatically recognizable in the future!
What is a decodable book?
Put simply, a decodable book is a book that includes text that can be read phonetically using the rules of phonics instruction taught up to that point. If your child has not yet learned long vowel sounds or consonant digraphs (/th/, /sh/, /ch/), for example, then a book that includes words with those phonics patterns would not yet be considered decodable for your child. It is important to pair decodable books alongside explicit and systematic phonics and phonemic awareness instruction. Read more about the difference between decodable books and leveled readers here.
What should I look for in a decodable book?
Whether you are a parent or a teacher, if you are looking to purchase a set of decodable books for your classroom or child, first take a look at the curriculum being used to teach phonemic awareness and phonics. Look at how and when new phonics concepts are taught. Align the decodable books you are using with that curriculum for the maximum benefit to your child.
You’ll also want to make sure that any high-frequency words included in the book have been previously introduced to the child. If not, feel free to provide the word to your child as he/she is reading aloud.
As tempting as it may be, avoid books that are too repetitive. These books can be especially desirable for kids because they are “easier” (which goes back to one of the main differences between decodable books and leveled readers).
The illustrations should add to the overall understanding of the story but the illustrations should not “give away” the text on the page. This can be difficult, especially for the very simplest of books with only a few words on a page. For a child’s first run through a decodable book, it might be helpful to cover the illustrations with a sticky note and uncover after the child has read the page. This keeps a child from developing a bad habit of guessing at the words.
What are the best decodable books for kindergarten?
The best decodable books for kindergarten are books that meet the above criteria and align with the Scope & Sequence of your child’s phonics instruction. Pathways to Reading Homeschool offers a set of 14 decodable books specifically for kindergarten students! These books align with the Scope and Sequence in our Basic Foundational Reading Program.
In addition to meeting all of the above criteria, each of our decodable books also features a Vocabulary and Comprehension link. Two of our titles are our “I Read / You Read” books, where the child reads the top line of decodable text and the parent/educator reads the bottom paragraph to build knowledge regarding the subject.
Finally, the Reading League, “a nonprofit organization with the mission to advance the awareness, understanding, and use of scientific-aligned reading instruction,” has published a very thorough list of decodable resources on their website. Our books (shown above) are included on this list as well!