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Enhancing Literacy Instruction with Decodable Texts

Enhancing Literacy Instruction with Decodable Texts

Decodable books have become a powerful tool for building strong reading skills for all types of learners. Up until recently, decodable texts have been used primarily in early elementary school, leaving behind the millions of older, striving readers in grades 3 and up. Additionally, most of the decodable texts that have been used in phonics instruction for older readers are written for first or second graders, and therefore feel babyish and irrelevant to middle and high schoolers.

That’s where Storyshares comes in. We’ve harnessed the power of decodable texts and created a series of engaging, exciting decodable chapter books written specifically for readers in upper elementary, middle, high school, and beyond!

Here's a guide to unlock the full potential of decodable books, whether you're a parent, teacher, or anyone looking to support a developing reader.

What is a decodable text?:

Decodable books are designed to directly connect letters to sounds (phonics) and promote word recognition. Storyshares decodable texts feature:

  • Controlled vocabulary: Words are chosen based on specific phonics skills being targeted within a scope and sequence.
  • Repetitive sounds: Sounds are repeated within the text to solidify learning.
  • Diverse, compelling, relatable characters
  • Photographs to support comprehension: unlike other “early readers”, the pictures help support the story but do not encourage students to “guess”

Why use decodable text with older students?

  • Engagement: “I WANT to read this!”
  • Confidence: “I CAN read this!”
  • Independence: “I know HOW to read this!”
  • Practice: “I LEARNED how to read this!”

Here are some tips to get the most out of decodable books:

1. Pre-teach Phonics Skills:

Before diving into a book, ensure the reader has a basic understanding of the targeted phonics sounds. If using Storyshares decodable books, you can go to the phonics page for each chapter to review phonics concepts, and preview challenge and high-frequency words.

2. Practice Reading with the Decodable Text:

Have your student read as much as possible, filling in for challenge/high-frequency words you took note of during pre-reading.

3. Focus on Fluency, Not Perfection:

The goal is for the reader to decode words confidently, not necessarily flawlessly. Celebrate their efforts and progress over time.

4. Make it Interactive:

After reading, have students summarize what they read, asking them which parts they liked most/least. 

5. Go Beyond the Text:

Discuss how they felt after reading. Was it a successful reading experience? Why or why not? Ask comprehension questions to extend learning.

Beyond the Basics:

Decodable books can be used strategically throughout the reading journey:

  • Early Readers: Build a strong foundation with simple decodable books and gradually progress to more complex texts.
  • Struggling Readers: Offer targeted support by focusing on specific phonics skills through decodable books.
  • English Language Learners: Decodable books help build phonemic awareness and vocabulary for those learning English as a new language.

Choosing the Right Books:

  • Match the Difficulty Level: Select books that align with the reader's current phonics skills, following a scope & sequence.
  • Consider Interests: Find stories with themes that capture the reader's attention.
  • Variety is Key: Explore different genres and formats to keep reading engaging.

At Storyshares, we are developing books and materials that enable striving readers to become proficient readers. Take a look at our decodable chapter book series and learn more at