Where am I in the Reading Universe Taxonomy?
Decodable texts are simple passages or books made for beginning readers that serve a specific and critical purpose: lots of practice sounding out and reading new words with phonics patterns that you have explicitly taught.
Here's an excerpt from "The Field Trip to the Zoo," a decodable text from Reading Universe that focuses on the vowel teams 'oo', 'ew', 'ue', and 'ou' — representing the sound /oo/ as in food, chew, blue, and group.
Summer break was almost here, and the school had planned an end-of-year trip for the students. Hugo's first grade class was on their way to the zoo. The students were ecstatic!
It was a cool June morning at the zoo, and very few people had arrived yet. Soon the zoo would be full of visitors. The class entered through the gates bursting with energy.
As children learn new sounds, high-frequency words, and spelling patterns during reading instruction, they need the chance to see them in connected text. A decodable text series carefully integrates all of these in sequence with students' lessons, providing practice opportunities that will build accuracy, fluency, and — ultimately — mastery.
The simplified format and words of decodable texts encourage students to sound out words using the decoding strategies from their structured literacy lessons. Students learning the short 'a' vowel sound, for example, would encounter lots of words that contain the short 'a' sound spelled with a single letter a — CVC words like cat, man, and had.
In addition to teaching students how to blend, segment, and read new words, decodable texts can boost students' confidence.
"Children want to be self-reliant readers and are delighted when they can apply what they know," says reading researcher Dr. Louisa Moats. "Decodable texts give them that chance to feel like a reader!"
We have a free collection of 83 decodable texts organized by phonics skill. Want to jump straight to the series? With our decodable text scope and sequence, you can find decodable texts for the patterns you're teaching or have already taught. You can use the Reading Universe decodable texts series with whatever phonics curriculum your school is using.
Most decodable texts follow a simple format. Each text in the Reading Universe series features teacher and student pages side-by-side.
Let's take a closer look at "Lunch at the Fish Shack."
When should you start reading decodable texts with students? As soon as you have introduced enough letters and sounds to begin reading a set of carefully selected words. Once you're rolling along with the introduction of new spelling patterns, reading decodable texts should happen daily.
The Reading Universe decodable text series follows a recommended scope and sequence based on the frequency and difficulty of spelling patterns. Scan our scope and sequence to find the decodable text that matches the patterns you're teaching. For example, if you're teaching the trigraph '-dge,' you'd choose the story "Mudge and the Fudge."
First you'll tackle the warm-up words, giving students an opportunity to read them in isolation before they read them in the passage. Here is an example of the warm-up words from "A Picnic with Pals," a decodable text that focuses on two-syllable words that end in a 'y' (representing the long 'e' sound), like lucky and fuzzy.
Not all warm-up words are the same:
Model reading each warm-up word, pointing as you read it aloud. Next, invite children to join you in reading the words together and then on their own. Provide support and feedback as needed, encouraging them to point to the words as you read aloud together.
At this point, you are ready to read the passage to your students. This can be done as a whole class, where every student has a copy of the text on their desk and you have a copy displayed on the board, or in small groups or one-on-one.
Model reading the passage with appropriate phrasing and intonation aligning with the punctuation.
Invite children to join you in reading the passage together, making sure they are pointing to the words as they read, while you provide support and feedback as needed. Depending on the student you are working with, you may need to read one sentence at a time, a few sentences at a time, or a paragraph at a time.
You may ask individual students to read a section or all of the passage aloud, providing support and feedback as needed. Whenever anyone is reading, all children should be attending to the print by pointing to the words. This adds to individual practice!
Reading decodable text is for students to practice their decoding abilities, but it's also an important opportunity for students to learn new vocabulary and think about meaning.
Each decodable text comes with a language extension section to help develop comprehension after students have accurately decoded the text. This includes vocabulary words from the passage and comprehension questions. While optional, the language extension helps interconnect the phonics and language comprehension skills students need for independent reading.
Decodable passages can also be used to measure accuracy and fluency. Numbers at the end of each line provide a word count, helping you track the number of words students read correctly. While regular timed readings aren't recommended with connected text until the middle of first grade, the word counts from decodable text can help you begin to measure accuracy and rate and can incentivize children to build fluency.
Follow these steps to calculate individual students' accuracy, with the goal being 95 to 100 percent accurate:
Note: When calculating
If you need a little more help, check out our fluency calculator reference card.
Find of all of the free Reading Universe decodable texts here.