Sunday, September 20, 2020

Decodable Books - Round Two

I hope you and your kiddos are doing well <3 Here are some more free learning-from home resources for your budding readers!

I wanted to get this second round of decodable books posted ages ago, but 2020 being what it is, life got in the way. Regardless, here they are at last! My first set of early readers focused on the Long E sound, and combinations of  Long E and Long U as well as Short A, Short O, and Short I combinations.

The phonics readers I'm sharing today each focus primarily on one vowel sound:

Short A

Short E

Short I

Short O

Long I

I've played around with various narratives and styles this time, and have tried to incorporate more STEM concepts into the readers, including a read-together non-fiction book. 

Like last time, I've striven to make these books 99% decodable for your kiddos, and have listed the letter sounds and the few "tricky" sight words they'll need to know on the second page of each book. 

I'm always looking to improve, so let me know what you think!

help me keep these readers free for whoever needs them

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Click on the images below to view a pdf version of the book, which should be suitable for tablet or smartphone. Let me know if you have any troubles downloading, or if you'd like a different format!

Cam Adapts a Ramp

Camp Adapts a Ramp - pdf book

This book is very short, so it's ideal for a beginning reader. Do note that it includes the word "adapt" -- which people with certain accents pronounce using a schwa rather than a Short A. To make things easier for your kiddo, I recommend pronouncing the word with a Short A while reading this.

Phonics Focus: Short A

Word Count: 43

Sight Words: 4

Crop Bot and Cod

Crop Bot and Cod - pdf book
This book is another that is designed for your just-getting-started reader. It also includes a touch of chemistry and biology in the storyline, so your kiddo can build a little STEM knowledge along the way!

Phonics Focus: Short O

Word Count: 105

Sight Words: 6

A Trip for Siskins

A Trip for Siskins - phonics book pdf

This is a narrative non-fiction book about birds and the seven continents. It's designed for you to read together with your child. There are decodable sections for your kiddo to read, while you'll read the other sections. You can pick-and-choose how much of the supplementary informational text you want to read aloud to your child based on their interest level and your time constraints.

Note that the file size is fairly large (80MB) for this one, so here is a link to a lower-res version as well.

Phonics Focus: Short I 

Word Count: 155

Sight Words: 12

NOTE: The non-fiction sections in this book are purposefully written using fairly advanced phrasing. I've done this as it's important for children to become accustomed to hearing textbook-type language spoken aloud. It's not something we often think to do but is critical for building their oral-auditory STEM-oriented literacy before they encounter this type of writing on their own.

The Trek

The Trek - phonics book pdf

In "The Trek" your child will try to guide the main character along the correct paths to reach their friend, using the written clues the friend left behind. They'll likely learn the names of some plants and animals along the way too, so it's a bit STEM-oriented.

It does incorporate a few words with tricky endings such as -ed, -edge, and -ettle, so this one's best for readers who already have a fair amount of practice with their short vowels, CVC, and CCVC words.

Phonics Focus: Short E
                           plus these endings:
                           -ed / -edge / -ettle

Word Count: 145

Sight Words: 11


White - phonics book pdf

This book follows the story of two children who live in a colorless world, but who discover the secret to bringing the color back into it. It's designed for readers who already have extensive practice with all the short vowel sounds, and who are learning the various Long I spellings.

Phonics Focus: Long I

Word Count: 257

Sight Words: 16

This is a chapter book designed for readers who are comfortable with common high frequency words and all the short vowel sounds. Each chapter is approximately 250-400 words, and there are 14 chapters, for a total of approximately 5,600 words. 

Phonics Focus: short a and short i focus
       (other short vowels too),
 all hard consonants,
       th, ch, sh, qu, wh

Word Count: 5,600

Chapters: 14

High-Frequency Words: 32

Tricky Words: island, fire, OK 

When a storm hits a ship on a day trip to Picnic Island, the six kids suddenly find themselves without a Captain. Adrift on the sea, they finally crash land, but it's not the island they were aiming for, and all their food and water was destroyed in the storm. How will they survive?

The book is available as a PDF and as a Kindle .mobi file. I should mention that the Kindle file arranges the illustrations and captions somewhat oddly, so it's not the ideal format for this book. However, if you are looking to have flexibility with the font face and font size, the Kindle version is the one for you! 


I hope you and your kiddos enjoy these readers! Be sure to check out the first 5 readers I posted if you're working on your Long E sound, or need some Short Vowel combo phonics books. I'm hoping to get out another few readers, including one for the Short U sound, a few even more basic books, and a decodable novella soon. But I also have another side project in the works so we will see how soon I can get to the readers!

If you're looking for a list of all the readers I've completed thus far, I have compiled them in this Master List.

If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear from you! email me at (( carissawritesthings ))  @  (( gmail  ))  .  (( com ))

<3 <3 <3


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If you read and enjoyed the books, I would love your help keeping them free for those in need. I'm going to have to pay for to a new server for my next batch of books, but I want to keep the books free, so any donations would be so appreciated, no matter how small!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Teaching Our White Kids About Racism

A Step-By-Step Guide to

Teaching our White Kids About Racism:

  { Jump to:

 1. Getting Oriented

2. Exploring Racial Diversity  } 

Like many white parents, I've spent these past few weeks teetering between hope and anxiety as I’ve watched Black America crying out for change, and I wonder what sort of future we will pass on to our children.

Will this be the year we listen? Will we finally work together to transform our policies and business practices and personal habits to dismantle the racism embedded in them? Will we finally act?

But as I tried to do better in my own life at speaking out, stepping up, calling my government reps, and otherwise supporting this 400-year cry for racial equity, I also keep coming back around to the same question:

How do we make sure our kids don’t repeat our mistakes?

I’ve had conversations with my kids about some of these issues before, but I knew I needed to do more. The problem? There's so much to say. Where do we begin? What are the most important things we need to teach our kids about race and racism? How do we talk about this in language they can understand?  How do we give this issue the emphasis it deserves rather than skimming over it? How do we teach them not only what racism is, but how to dismantle it? What am I forgetting? Are my kids too young for this? Where do I even start???  

It can feel overwhelming to talk to our kids about race. But I don’t think it has to.

Over the years, I've done a fair amount of research, both for my PhD and my novel writing, about racism, racial inequities, and the need for change. Now that I have two small children of my own, I know how important it is to teach them about this, and how important it is to start early. But I also know ... (like really really know) ... how hard it is to find time to do this, how tricky it is to do this abstractly without concrete visual aids like books or videos, and how difficult it can be to find the ideal books and videos you need for young children to springboard these discussions.

This guide breaks down the process step-by-step.

I don't want complexity or uncertainty or lack of resources to stop any of us from having these important conversations about race and racism with our kids. So I designed this as a step-by-step, conversation-by-conversation sequence that we can follow to make sure we are having all of these very necessary discussions about race with our young children.

In each section, I’ve included: (1) an intro for parents, (2) a “script” we can read aloud to our kids if we’re having trouble finding the right words, and (3) links to videos, picture books, read-alouds, and other resources we can use both to introduce the topics and to delve more deeply into them. Keep in mind that a few of the activities and conversations about skin color are geared primarily toward sighted people, so these may need a tweak or two if you and/or your child are visually impaired.

I made this for me, and I made this for us. This is a work in progress, so let me know if you notice anything that needs fixing, or if you know of amazing resources I’ve missed and should add.

Okay, now let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work!

Table of Contents
You can start wherever you need, but the concepts will probably make the most sense to your kiddos if you start in Chapter 1 and work through sequentially. If you have only very young children (infants and toddlers), you’ll want to focus on Chapters 1-3: Exploring and Celebrating Racial & Cultural Diversity.

Once your kids are in Pre-K - 6, and can communicate more fully about complex concepts, you’ll be able to move onto more explicitly discussing racism, fairness, and activism (Chapters 4 - 6).

Note: I don’t have all the chapters completed yet, but you will be able to find them all linked here once I do.  <3

1. Getting yourself Oriented

(Parents-only section)

a. Individual vs. Systemic Racism

b. Is it too early to talk to my kids about race?

c. The danger of teaching kids to be ‘colorblind’

d. Optional: do a bias-check

2. Exploring Racial Diversity

a. What race am I?


b. Why do people have different skin colors?


c. Different families, cultures, & traditions


d. Learn about your family history

3. Celebrating Diversity

a. The Beauty of Difference

b. Different on the Outside, Same on the Inside

c. Diverse Communities

d. Choosing Diverse Toys, Books, and Media

e. Pointing Out Lack of Diversity

f. Dismantling Color Associations


4. Examining America’s History of Racism

a. Where Our Family Came From

b. White Settlers and Native Americans

c. Slavery

d. Abolishing Slavery 

e. Civil Rights & Standing Up For What’s Right


5. Seeking Fairness & Equity

a. What is Racism?

b. Fairness & Equity

c. Luck of Birth

d. Impact vs. Intent

e. Unintended Consequences

f. Systemic Racism

g. Racism in Current Events

h. Racism in Books, TV, and Movies

i. Racism in Everyday Talk & Action

j. When your Kiddo Says Something Racist


6. Do Something! Kid-Friendly Activism

a. Empathy Building

b. Being an Includer

c. Standing up to Bullies

d. Microaggressions

e. Civic Engagement

f. Activism: Protests, Campaigns, and Art


Let's Get Started >>


Here are some of the resources I found most helpful when compiling this guide.


Talking Racism with White Kids is Not Enough - TIME








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