This early stage of reading is so important and so exciting! Reading opens so many avenues of adventures and learning that your child will cherish for years to come!
But, it is important that your child is able to practice and apply their new reading skills at home. Reading is not a natural (or often easy) skill to learn so it is important that your child is able to frequently practice the skills they are learning in the classroom.
Decodables and read alouds are two different ways you can practice reading at home! Both are very important for developing readers, but both serve very different purposes.
Decodables are books that allow your student to practice the phonics skills they are learning in the classroom. Your child’s teacher will share the different sounds that your child is learning each week, and the decodables provide that extra practice.
Decodables are specifically written to support new readers and allow them to apply their newly learned phonics skills (Five From Five, n.d.). These short reads provide multiple opportunities for students to build automaticity and fluency with the new phonics skills (Five From Five, n.d.). This automaticity will eventually allow students to move from focusing on the letters in the text to focusing on the meaning.
Your child’s teacher might provide paper copies of decodables in their homework folder for the week. But, there are also plenty of other decodables that are available for free for your child to use. UFLI and Flyleaf are both great free options to provide your student with the extra practice that your child needs!
My favorite decodables for purchase are the Whole Phonics decodables. Your child will fall in love with the adorable characters and the fun storylines! These books are exciting and engaging, but still allow for multiple opportunities to practice those important phonics skills.
Whole Phonics: https://whole-phonics.com
Reading aloud with your child is also important for your student that supports a wide variety of other skills! Reading aloud to your child is an important part of their early literacy journey. It helps them develop oral language, text structure, build vocabulary, and build comprehension skills (Reading Rockets, n.d.).
Read alouds also support building relationships too! It can help students develop social-emotional skills like empathy (Reading Rockets, n.d.). But it can also encourage skills like problem solving, handling big emotions, and friendships (Reading Rockets, n.d.). Most importantly, read alouds can help strengthen family bonds (Reading Rockets, n.d.).
Here are some helpful hints for selecting and using read alouds!
- Choose books that are age appropriate.
- Choose books based on what your child is interested in.
- Make the read alouds fun and interactive (like character voices).
- Build vocabulary while you read.
- Connect the story to your child’s previous experiences or things that your child already knows.
- Ask questions about the text.
- Do it often.
(Reading Rockets, n.d.).
Reading is such an important skill and a necessary skill to be able to survive and thrive in our current society. Read alouds and decodables are both fun and exciting ways to help turn your beginning reader into a master reader!
Five From Five. (n.d.). Decodable books. Multilit. https://fivefromfive.com.au/phonics-teaching/decodable-books/
Reading Rockets. (n.d.). Reading with your child. https://www.readingrockets.org/literacy-home/reading-your-child