Sunday , January 21 2018
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Decodable Readers

A lot of people ask me, what books I should use to develop my child's reading skills. The answer is decodable readers. These are books your child should be able to read almost independently with a little practice.

I recommend tackling reading after your child already has a strong understanding between letters and the sounds they make. If your child does not know the sound that "B" makes, or the sound that "A" makes, then it would be a little overwhelming to expect them to blend words together that use "B" and "A".

Here's how I would approach reading development:

1. Make sure your child can recognize all letters of the alphabet with quick recall.
2. Teach the 44 phonemes and 70 graphemes that compose English reading.
3. Use books and games to learn how to blend letters together to read.

The best way to practice reading decodable readers is this. Most decodable readers have 3 letter words. Point to each letter in the word and solicit what sound each letter makes. Cover the last letter in the word with your hand. Show your child how the first two letters in the word blend together to make a new sound. Then, unforgettable the third letter, and show how all three letters blend together to make a new word.

Here are some excellent titles that will skyrocket your child's reading abilities. I recommend starting to read these once your child has a strong idea about what sounds the letter makes (ie they know that "b" says "bear" and "bagel":

BOB Books: These books are very popular with parents, and with good reason. They start off by showing what letter sounds will be used in the book (review is very important), they are pretty short, and children enjoy them.

FUN Phonics Readers: The FUN Phonics series still sell very well, even though a lot of companies are making them and competition is greater. This is because these books are well illustrated, upbeat, moral tales.

A lot of parents start reading books with their children that can actually be a little difficult for a beginning reader. The Dr. Suess books, for instance, would look perfect for young readers, but they're actually quite challenging. These are a more intermediate level reader.

But truthfully, if you search online for decodable readers you should be able to find a lot of free books out there.

The main elements of a decodable reader are essentially as follows:

1. Usually short in length.
2. Use a few main sounds over and over.
3. Words tend to be short (three letter words, or CVC words, are commonly used).

One criticism that is sometimes levied against decodable readers is that they are quite boring compared to more traditional children's titles, and they will spoil the child's interest in reading. I argue that these books are a tool to get started reading. A stepping stone to the world of more challenging, interesting books.

I'd liken decodable readers to learning to ski on the bunny hill. Sure, it's not as fun as flying down the mountain, but you definitely would not want to start off that way. Work on the fundamentals first before trying to tackle something more difficult.

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