Early Decodable Readers


 Do you recommend any early readers? I want to thank you for creating Phonics Pathways.  I am using it with my 12-year-old daughter who joined our family two years ago from India.  She arrived knowing no English. After sitting in a classroom for over a year she was making no progress, so she and I began homeschool. 

“I started with the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (a good book but better for kids who already know English), then switched to Phonics Pathways after advice from another homeschooling parent.  It has been wonderfully effective at helping my daughter learn to read.  We take it slowly and review.  We have played the train game and the star card game.  She is interested in what “Dewey” has to say on each page.

“I have a master’s degree in library science, and I have a wonderful children’s book collection.  I am reading the “classics” aloud to my daughter after our Phonics Pathways exercises. Are there early readers you recommend that she could read herself”


Once students can read three-letter words and simple two-word phrases they are probably ready for gradually progressive and decodable readers.

“Decodable” is the key word here! The problem with most early readers is that a number of sight words are usually thrown in as part of the story — no doubt to make it more interesting. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to find riveting reading material that is totally decodable!

Using learning how to play the piano as an analogy, it’s also boring to practice scales in the beginning. And yet practicing scales and simple chords is exactly what is needed at first to produce fluent and accurate piano playing. It’s the same thing with beginning readers, although truly decodable readers can be difficult to find.

Sifting through the literature, here are a few decodable reading sets I’d recommend off the top of my hat that include only a few sight words:

BOB BOOKS (Scholastic)
The Bob Books, available almost anywhere, are especially good with very young children just beginning to read. Many people have used them with great success. Small half-sized books, with very simple stylized black and white drawings on every page.

FUN PHONICS (Sizzy Books)
www.funphonics.com 1-888-886-7323
These little Sizzy books are similar to the Bob Books, with line drawings on every page, but have three questions at the end of each booklet to check for comprehension. (Also on the last page is a state map with the capitol, state flower, & tree on it. There is a different state for every booklet.) Emphasis is on short-vowel words. After that it moves faster–for example, all long-vowel sounds are grouped together.


www.sopriswest.com 1-800-547-6747 These booklets are also as progressively decodable as the above, but with stories appealing to older children (baseball, rollerskating, etc.) as well as beginning readers. As such, very nice for older remedial readers. Contains more stories than the above–several short stories in each booklet. Small, with black and white drawings. Comprehension questions at the end of each reader.

POWER READERS – by Susan Ebbers
www.sopriswest.com 1-800-547-6747
Children read, write, and color in these charming new interactive Power Readers. The first four pages ensure reading readiness (sounds, letters, sight words, vocabulary). The next six pages provide an opportunity to “sound out” the decodable story. Several post-reading pages provide additional practice with engaging comprehension and rhyming activities. With the exception of beginning blends, the series follows the Phonics Pathways sequence up through the –ing suffix. Packaged set of 28 exceptionally-decodable books plus program guide. Preview this delightful new series at the author’s web page: www.readingway.com

This lively set of 72 little readers by Rachel McOmber is beautifully illustrated, extremely decodable, and has cumulative stories that impart good values, featuring the same interesting characters. These books are humorous and enjoyable, and have comprehension questions at the end of each booklet. There are full-color covers and two-color pages, which have very large print for easy reading.


Other readers we’ve looked at are beautiful with colored illustrations, but move ahead faster and have many more sight words. Listed above are the readers I am familiar with that are systematic, progressive, and have a minimum of sight words. I’m sure there are more!

Note: At first just ignore any sight-word lists that may be part of some of these readers — you want your students to be fluent in the mechanics of reading in the beginning, and any sight words at all could throw them off at first. When they come across a sight word it’s perfectly acceptable (even advisable!) for you to read that word for them. After reading is more established they will be able to sail through sight or phonics words with aplomb!

Thanks for writing, and I hope this helps!      ~Dolores




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