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Making the switch from leveled readers to decodables

If you have been using Leveled Books for awhile like me, you might find it tricky to wrap your mind around making the switch to decodable readers and being able to tell what “level” a child is at.

Levels A-Z made it very easy for us to see “where a child is at” but it wasn’t always accurate. Many of the early leveled books are designed to have kids use the pictures to guess words. It is not a fair representation of what a child can or cannot do.

So, we know decodable readers are better but how do we organize them? How do we use them in small groups? How will we know what “level” a child is on?

decodable passages set
Stacked books

How to Make the Switch

These are the questions I asked myself when I made the switch. I also wanted to move away from the idea of “leveling kids”. All kids have skills so it’s just about finding their skill group and putting our instructional focus there.

If you are asking the same questions, check out my FREE GUIDE on making the switch from Leveled Readers to Decodables.

How To Choose Decodable Books

It can also be tricky to navigate whether or not books are truly decodable. Here are some things I look for.

  1. Do the books follow a scope and sequence? This is important because as we are teaching our kids skills, the text they read should be reinforcing those skills.
  2. Is the text predictable? You want to avoid predictable text whenever possible. Check out this video for more info!
  3. Which high frequency words are included? As often as possible, you want to avoid having kids memorize words just to read a passage. Science shows us that memorization is not an effective or efficient way to learn words. You will want to map the high frequency words before reading if possible.
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Easing the Transition

I have written decodable books and passages to help make the transition easier. I was very careful to only use words that have been explicitly taught according to my scope and sequence.  I wanted to eliminate the need to memorize words just to read a passage.

Therefore, all of my decodable books and resources are 100% decodable following my scope & sequence! This means kids will not have to memorize or guess words in order to read a passage. They will actually be READING the text, building on the skills they have while becoming more fluent and confident readers!

Check out my Decodable Adventure Series books and other resources below!


Units 1-5 are available now.  Each unit includes word lists, activity pages, decodable passages, and a book for each skill.

I have also included assessments to make it easier for you to know what skills your students have & what skills you should focus on. Check out the shop for all these resources and more!

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What People Are Saying

Danielle K


I LOVE these decodable readers and the fact that Heidi has aligned them to her phonics scope and sequence makes it even better! Planning and prepping for small group instruction is so easy with these amazing resources.

Audrey G


This is the resource that set me off learning the Science of Reading!!! I never realized how un-decobable many decodable readers are. Just amazing. Plus my students feel accomplished after reading and love that they can color the pictures.

Sarah L


These are TRUE decodables and I’ve seen such a difference in my lower readers. They feel more confident and motivated when working with these decodables.

Maria F


My students love these decodables. They are easy to put together and follow. My students love the illustrations and ask to have time to color them. The stories and cute and engaging. I have the High Frequency Words bundle and the orthographic mapping bundle. All of these go together so well. I just love everything about this!

Michelle T


Love, love love this resource! The decodable books are great and the activities are very engaging and follow my phonics scope and sequence very well! I will be using this resource for many years to come.

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