Part 2 – Information about decodable readers

Information about alternative decodable readers is provided in this section.

Part 2: Information about decodable readers


Sound Discovery


I am showing the Sound Discovery books first because, as far as I know, they were the first to be written since phonics made a comeback after it went out of fashion for many years. There are 12 of these King Wizzit books in the series. They were written with reluctant readers in mind, but are also enjoyable for all readers.


Piper Books


The Piper Books were developed a long time ago, in the United States, when phonics was more widely used. They were well researched and shown to be very effective. Recently, they have been brought back into use and extended to include books that are suitable for older struggling readers.


New letter sounds and tricky words are introduced at a very slow pace and there is plenty of repetition. This makes these books particularly suitable for the children who are finding reading difficult. They also cover a wide range of ages: BRI (Beginning Reading Instruction) books are suitable for beginners, ARI (Advanced Reading Instruction) books are for the more advanced, and MRI (Mature Reading Instruction) books are for mature, struggling readers. They are cleverly written and have plenty of English humour. Examples include one about King Henry VIII and another is a simplified version of Macbeth.


Jolly Phonics Readers


In complete contrast, the Jolly Phonics Readers progress very quickly. They are particularly suitable for the children who find blending easy, who learn the letter sounds confidently, and who cope well with more advanced vocabulary and greater amounts of text on each page.


Usually, a mixture of decodable readers is needed so that the children can make fast progress, but also consolidate their phonic knowledge and understanding, where necessary. It is important to recognise that decodable readers are the stepping stones to becoming a good reader and, for some, are only needed for a short time, while others need them for much longer. In fact, most children only need them until the letter sounds introduced in Steps 1 to 5 are known, the skill of blending is good, and there is fluency in the reading. By then, they are able to read any books that are suitable for their age and understanding.


Fluent readers on Green and Blue Level are generally ready for free choice of reading books. From then on, it is about encouraging the children to read as much as possible, especially large amounts of text that stretch and excite them.


SPELD SA Phonic Books



The SPELD SA Phonic Books were developed in Southern Australia. SPELD stands for Specific Learning Difficulties. It is a non-profit organisation that provides advice and services to children and adults with specific learning difficulties.


The need for decodable books was recognised, so several sets of them were written by Angela Weeks. Fortunately, they introduce the letter sounds in the same order as this website.


Another advantage is that these books are online and are free. This is particularly useful for parents who would like their children to have access to decodable books at home.



Dandelion Launchers and Readers (Phonic Books Ltd)


These colourful books start with the Dandelion Launchers, which use simple words and only the initial phonic code. They are based on the Sounds-Write reading and spelling programme. They lead into the Dandelion Readers, which progress from the initial code to the extended code.


Often it is difficult to find decodable books that are suitable for older struggling children and these catch-up books do just that: there is simple text, but mature storylines and pictures, which is just what is needed.


Read Write Inc


The Read Write Inc. decodable readers were developed by Ruth Miskin. Ruth is a synthetic-phonics expert, who realised early on the importance of using decodable readers. She has achieved great success through the use of synthetic phonics and these well-thought out sets of decodable readers.


A different colour is used for each new set of books. Each book clearly indicates what needs to be known before the children are expected to read them.


Jelly and Bean


In the past, decodable readers have had a reputation of being dull and boring for children, but this is not the case nowadays. These charming animal stories are a pleasure for young children. They have plenty of repetition and are suitable for children who need that extra bit of support.


Floppy’s Phonics, Songbirds, and Rigby Star/Phonics Bug


The Floppy’s Phonics and Songbirds readers are published by Oxford University Press. The Rigby Star books are published by Pearson, who also makes them available as e-books, under the title Phonics Bug. They all have large print, colourful pictures, and introduce the letter sounds progressively.


Links with more information on these decodable readers can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of the screen in the section Decodable Readers, Part 2.


  • Word Bank - Steps 1-5

    A word bank is useful for writing decodable stories.