Why are reading levels no longer necessary? 

When it comes to early literacy skills, the question is: Where do we start? What type of books are best? Do reading levels matter? Today, in this blog, we’re going to compare and contrast Levelled readers and Decodable texts. Come along for the ride!

WHAT ARE LEVELLED READERS?

Levelled readers often use a number or letter to indicate a level. The level is measured by a number of factors like the perceived difficulty of a text and the length of a text. Early levelled readers are based on some old ideologies like looking at a picture and guessing the words helps teach kids to read. Readers are relying heavily on the pictures as cues to guess the words. Levelled readers can also follow a pattern: “The cat went to the park” … “The dog went to the park”. The pattern serves as another cue. The only problem is that these cues (pictures and patterns) do NOT help kids read.

So, if your reader(s) is struggling with their books they bring home and/or you’re not seeing progress, this might be why. It’s not their fault! So what now?

A solution to the problem:

What if I told you that there was an easier way to teach our kids? Something that follows sound patterns, teaching them how to properly decode and not use strategies that will find fault in them quickly. Decodable texts! So what are decodable texts and why are they so awesome!? Decodable texts follow a phonics (sound) pattern. The content of the books follow a clear scope and sequence which allows for explicit teaching. This equips students with the tools they need and helps beginning readers learn to decode words and language.

Within decodable texts, kids are properly learning phonics (sounds) and they’re learned/taught in a systematic approach. This means no memorizing, no using the pictures to guess words, no random words beyond their current understanding and building on their phonics (+ phonemic awareness and phonological awareness) skills to build strong literacy skills that can be used forever.

These books are perfect for early readers as they have been created in a way that supports what we know about the science of reading. They are also instrumental in helping struggling readers when intervention is needed. There is now a push towards promoting teaching programs that focus more on using decodable texts along with explicit instruction on phonics. We want to set our kids up for success, and decodable texts from Flyleaf or Junior Learning do just that!

WHY DECODABLE TEXTS ARE A BETTER CHOICE

There are many reasons why decodable texts should be a key focus when we are teaching children to read. These books help strengthen kids understanding of phonics and letter to sound correlations. They also allow children to read more independently because they are able to recognize orthographic and spelling conventions as their knowledge grows. Often children experience greater success when using decodable texts as opposed to levelled readers. This helps build their confidence tremendously which we know is so important. Overall, there needs to be greater attention given to using decodable texts and they need to be used more in the early stages as children are learning how to read.

This is not to say that levelled readers don’t have their place. Levelled readers can be used in the later grades to further develop comprehension skills and further vocabulary.

I would love to know what your experience has been as a parent or teacher. Have you used decodable texts with your kids? If so, have they helped your child? As always reach out to me with any questions or comments you have on this topic. I love hearing from you!

Check out these Decodable Books:

Junior Learning has one of the best collections that I’ve seen to date. Here is a link to some of their early Decodable readers, however, all of their readers are great (not just the early texts). If you are unsure about which texts would be helpful for your kids/students, please don’t hesitate to ask! I can help you poke around and find the best options. Use Code: READINGFUN30 for 30% off. Click HERE to check them out!

Flyleaf publishing is a great option too. It has a bunch of free decodable texts! Click HERE to check them out.

Phonics Books has a huge selection of decodable texts, however I find them a bit pricy. Click HERE to check them out!

As always, I’m here if you have any questions. Please feel free to leave them below or email or message me IG!

xx Kaley


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When you subscribe, you’ll have access to tons of great tips and more freebies! See you on the inside!