Decodable Books in Kindergarten

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Decodable books in kindergarten are essential for supporting phonics instruction and building strong reading skills. But let’s be honest, when you are teaching a book about short a it can not be the most interesting topic. Maybe you have wondered “What is the best way to use these decodable books?” Learn more about using decodable readers in your kindergarten classroom and grab a free decodable reader from the NEW Simply Kinder set.

Learn more about what decodables are and how they can be a great learning tool in your classroom! Grab the free set from the New Decodable Readers and Word Work Activities set below!

What are decodables?

Decodable Book example

Decodable books focus on letter-sound patterns to guide students in phonics practice in context. Decodable readers are meant to be sequenced in a way that progresses through the phonics skills that you teach. By doing this, your students are able to focus their learning on one skill set at a time. Students can then build that skill and understanding before moving on to the next set. Examples of these would be short vowel words, long vowels CVCe words, digraphs, etc.

Why are decodables important?

Students need explicit phonics instruction, especially in kindergarten to develop strong reading skills. By using decodable readers students can practice decoding words that are focused on a specific skill.

Reading strategies to focus on include:

  • reading left to right on the page and the word
  • grapheme sounds
  • blend the sounds together
  • apply phonics rules that they know
  • decoding for meaning

By explicating teaching to focus on the letters and sounds of the words students are focusing on the words instead of using pictures or guessing strategies to read. Having decodable books where students have success in reading, build upon their skills pushing forward in the process of reading, and gain the confidence (and automaticity) they need to be fluent readers are essential for learning to decode.

Explicit instruction of phonics is key.

How do you use decodables?

Decodable books in kindergarten activities

When utilizing decodables, it is important to be clear with your students on the targeted phonic focus such as short a. In addition, connecting the lessons you are teaching with your student’s reading helps them greatly. Providing a variety of ways to practice each phonics sound is key. Use manipulatives in your instruction like word sorts, highlighters, cut/paste letters, and more to support students learning.

The goal of reading is always comprehension, whether comprehending the word, sentence, or story they read. Decodables themselves don’t typically follow a repetitive structure because we want the students to decode the words. Because of this, they are a combination of the letters and sounds the students know and simple sight words that make sense. When these come together and students are ready skill-wise they will be successful at reading decodables.

Our decodable routine varies depending on need but has many of these elements in it:

  • Preview the books, looking at the title and drawing on knowlege they may know about the title
  • Reading some decodable words that are review and/or focus on the targeted skill before we read the book
  • Review the sight words that are present in the book
  • Read the book one page at a time, stopping to discuss any miscues immediately
  • Talk about the meaning of the page and book
  • Have student read the book to a friend in the class or some sort of reread
  • Followup with a word work activity with the students we can do together or independently
Decodable books in kindergarten activities

This can be a lot and then finding books that allow for all of this are tricky but Simply Kinder has developed a decodable set [here] that will help! Our decodables have:

  • book focused on one phonics pattern (prints horizontal which we all know is better).
  • small group aides like wall cards and student reading cards
  • printables where students tap the words before they write them
  • cut and glue printables that have students working on those phonic patterns from the book
  • build a word activities that can be done independently or in small group
  • center activities using the skills from the book
  • books they create on their own that match the book we read
  • Digital interactive activities in Google and Seesaw (with voice)

The best part, each phonics pattern (short a, CVCe a, etc) has multiple books to pick from. So you have a student who is not ready to move past short a just yet, next week you grab another short a book to use with him/her. We thought this was important because some students need more practice on a phonics skill but there is only one book for that skill. We definitely don’t want our students reading the same book again, and again, and again.

Check out the complete set here!

When do you use decodables?

Decodable texts can be used in whole groups, mini-lessons, independent, small groups, reading groups, or at home as a review when they are independent with them. Your kinder students will be able to move through these decodables and advance along in phonics word sets as the year unfolds with proper reinforcement of these skills.

Decodable book in kindergarten activities

Decodable Readers in Kindergarten

What order should you do them in? Well, this is a tricky question and you will get lots of different answers for it. The key here is to follow the order in which you have taught your students. This means the decodable that came with your core curriculum may be the best. You SHOULD technically only have phonics patterns and sight words that have been taught this far.

But we all know that supplementing is necessary and that is where we are here to help. Our decodable readers start with short vowel CVC (a, e, i, o, and then u) and move to CVCe (a_e, i_e, o_e, and u_e). This bundle is endless and we do plan on adding all books and activities for all the other sounds we teach in kindergarten like ch, ee, and so on. Our books focus on the target skill but we also know that by the time your student is ready for a_e they most likely have CVC down so it will include both. This allows us to have richer and fuller stories for your students to read.

The Simply Kinder sets includes will include multiple books for each skill set and a HUGE variety of activities to support each book. So if a student needs additional practice with short a, you have a CHOICE of other books and activities with that skill. Students will not memorize the book because you have several to pick from that are engaging and on target.

Check out the complete set here!

Decodable book in kindergarten activities

Decodable readers are great for all!

Of course, decodable readers are beneficial for ALL kindergarten students. If you are looking for a set of decodable readers to use with your students, along with a huge variety of phonics activities, be sure to check out our NEW Decodable Readers and Word Work Activities here! This set includes readers, printables, centers, word work, wall cards, small group aides and so much more. Everything you need for your students to rock decodable learning! 

Free Decodable Reader Activity

Try out short A complete set for Nat the Bat by entering your information here! The Simply Kinder Freebie Fairy will send that right over to your inbox. Already a subscriber? No worries! Just unlock it here too.


We hope that you now have a better understanding of decodables. It is important that your students are able to build upon their reading with the proper tools! Let us know how you are instructing with decodables over on Simply Kinder Teachers Facebook Group or tag us at #SimplyKinder on Instagram!

This post was written by Lindsey Ward. Lindsey is a certified teacher with several years of teaching experience and a great love for all things Kindergarten and First Grade.

At Simply Kinder we work together to bring you ready-to-use resources to partner with great teaching for any curriculum, a Facebook community where teachers talk all things Kindergarten, and low-prep learning ideas that your students will love. Be sure to stay up to date with all things kindergarten on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and through email. Simply Kinder: where teaching Kinder is definitely better together!
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