“I read that!” – the power of using decodable texts

I remember reading with my first Year 1 class at Angel Oak Academy.  There was a boy in my class who hadn’t understood the concepts, skills or knowledge that underpin early reading.  I think it’s fair to say he didn’t like reading.

I’d try and read with each child once a week.  We were using book bands then, as this was before we implemented Sounds Write, and this young man was on pink.  He’d obviously been on pink throughout Reception (he knew all of the books by heart).  I’d ask him to read with me and he’d roll his eyes, look for an excuse and occasionally moan ‘not again’.  After some encouragement, he’d pick up the book, recite it, and would have melted out of his chair by the last page (if he managed to get there without coming up with an elaborate distraction).

We implemented Sounds Write after October half term, and stocked our EYFS and Year 1 classrooms with Dandelion Readers.  As a class, we were working on the complex code (alternative spellings), and some children (including my reluctant reader) were also in a small intervention group to whom I was reteaching the basic code (CVC words and 1:1 correspondence).  


After a couple of weeks of intervention, and explicit modelling of saying the sounds and reading/writing words, I asked him to read a Dandelion Reader.  The code in the book was very restricted – an entire book comprised only of words that contained 5 sounds: ‘a’ as in ‘mat’, ‘i’ as in ‘sit’, ‘m’ as in ‘Tim’, ‘s’ as in ‘sat’, and ‘t’ as in ‘Tom’.  (With Sounds Write, you systematically build code knowledge through the introduction of sounds in the context of real words rather than graphemes in isolation).  He rolled his eyes, feigned the need to go to the toilet, then reluctantly agreed to read to me.

We sat down, and I asked him to say the sounds and read the title.  He did, and he could.  He then read the first page, then the second, then the rest of the book.  When he’d finished, he slammed the book shut.  He stared at me, eyes wide, and announced,

“I read that!”

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