Embracing Decodable Readers in Kindergarten: A Guide to Effective Reading Instruction

by | Nov 16, 2023


Welcome to our exploration of the world of early reading materials and their role in effective reading instruction. Today, we’ll delve into decodable readers, controlled text, and leveled readers, focusing on their importance in mastering foundational reading skills in kindergarten.


Understanding Reading Materials


Decodable Readers


These are texts where the majority of words can be sounded out using the phonics skills a student has already learned. They are designed to align with specific phonics instruction and provide practice in decoding.


Controlled Text


Similar to decodable readers, controlled text is carefully crafted to include words that align with the readers’ current phonetic understanding, but it might also include a few high-frequency words that are not decodable.


Leveled Readers


Leveled readers are categorized by reading difficulty, focusing more on content and vocabulary than on aligning with specific phonics skills. They often encourage prediction and picture cues for word identification.


Authentic Decodable and Controlled Texts


Identifying Authentic Decodable Readers

Authentic decodable readers will align closely with the phonics skills being taught. For example, if students are learning short vowel sounds, the text will predominantly feature words with these sounds.


Determining Authentic Controlled Readers

These readers should contain a high percentage of phonetically decodable words, along with some sight words. They should still offer decoding practice but provide a bit more variety in vocabulary.


The Importance of Decodable Readers in Kindergarten


Using authentic decodable readers is crucial in kindergarten for several reasons:


  • They reinforce phonics instruction, allowing students to apply what they’ve learned.
  • They build confidence as students are able to read the majority of words independently.
  • They emphasize the importance of decoding skills over guessing or cueing strategies.


The Problem with Leveled Readers


Leveled readers often promote guessing or cueing strategies instead of decoding. This can lead to the development of poor reading habits, where students rely on pictures or context clues rather than sounding out words.


Selecting Decodable Readers


When choosing decodable readers, ensure they:


  • Align with the specific phonics skills taught.
  • Are engaging and age-appropriate.
  • Include a variety of simple sentences and stories.


UFLI Decodable Readers


UFLI (University of Florida Literacy Institute) decodable readers are designed based on scientific research in reading. They are considered authentic as they align closely with structured literacy approaches and phonics skills.


Using Decodable Readers in Literacy Blocks


Decodable readers should be integrated into daily literacy blocks. They can be used in:


  • Guided reading sessions.
  • Independent reading time.
  • Paired reading activities.


Developing Proficiency with Decodable Readers


To help students become proficient readers:


  • Incorporate repeated readings of the same text to build fluency.
  • Discuss the story to improve comprehension.
  • Use decodable readers as a basis for phonics and vocabulary lessons.


Assessing Effective Use of Decodable Readers


Teachers can assess students’ proficiency with decodable readers through:


  • Oral reading to evaluate fluency and decoding accuracy.
  • Comprehension questions.
  • Regular progress monitoring using phonics assessments.


Frequency of Reading Decodable Texts


In kindergarten, students should ideally engage with decodable texts daily. This regular practice is key to developing strong decoding skills and building a solid foundation for future reading success.


In summary, the use of decodable readers in kindergarten plays a pivotal role in developing foundational reading skills. By carefully selecting and effectively integrating these readers into the literacy block, teachers can ensure that their students are on the path to becoming confident, proficient readers.



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