The deb would like to thank Erin Palmer, a member of the deb, for kindly typing up this letter and sharing it with the community. This letter can be given to your local library asking them to purchase decodable texts for our struggling readers.

Please copy and paste from below and feel free to make any amendments to suit your own personal request.


I know, working in a library, you are as passionate about reading as I am. I love reading and books; but I am most passionate about supporting the transition to literacy. I have seen, as an option for new readers, you have a collection of ‘levelled texts’. As I’m sure you know, levelled texts are collections of books organised in levels of difficulty. The collections for the earliest of readers generally follow a repetitive pattern (I see a bird, I see a horse, I see a cow, etc.). These books can be great for building confidence, as they are easy to memorise and allow a child to experience quick success in ‘reading’ a book.

However, levelled texts generally rely on a child memorising the words and/or sentence patterns, without the child reading (decoding) at all! Many of these texts contain complex spelling, which a beginning reader might not have learned before being asked to ‘read.’

Reading is a complex skill, and all skilled readers have ‘cracked the code.’ Learning sound-letter coordination is important – but independent practice of the skill of blending previously learned sound-letter coordinations leads to true mastery of independent reading. A tool, which is proven to support beginning and struggling readers, is the ‘decodable text.’

Decodable texts also come in collections, ranging from the more simple to the more complex. The most simple of decodable texts start with a handful of 1-1 sound-letter correspondences (e.g. s a t p i n). Every word in the book is made up from these letters, often in a CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) format, making it easier for a beginning child to read independently (without having to memorise anything but the letters which represent the sounds!).

The books in the collection become slowly more complex, as the reader learns more and more sound-letter correspondences (digraphs, blends, vowel teams, magic ‘e’, etc.) – each advancing book/mini collection allowing the child independent practice of the sound-letter correspondences that have been learned.

These collections benefit all beginning readers, and are fundamental for struggling readers. Unfortunately, they aren’t common in our classrooms (due to the constructivist nature of our curriculum) and can be quite expensive for parents to purchase.

Of course, decodable texts alone don’t build fantastic readers. Children learning literacy need support in a number of areas, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Many of these skills are supported through traditional children’s literature, which is also very important (and for which you have the loveliest collection!).

I am hoping it is possible to continue to build and strengthen the children’s library by adding in some decodable texts. It would be an amazing resource for beginning readers, struggling readers, our homeschooling community, and teachers wanting hands-on experience before purchasing for a classroom.

If you’d like more information about decodable texts, here are some links:

Explainer: what’s the difference between decodable and predictable books, and when should they be used?


To see the benefits of a structured literacy approach and decodable text, we can look to our very own NZ research: Massey University Early Literacy Research Project.

Some collections I would recommend for purchasing consideration are:

Little Learners Love Literacy: Liz Kane Literacy

Dandelion Readers: Learning Matters Or: Smartkids  The Totem, Talisman, or Moondog series (for older, struggling readers): Learning Matters

Junior Learning Decodable Readers: Junior Learning