Decodable Readers

This is a master list of all of the free decodable phonics books I've written. What started out as a COVID-lockdown project for my own child has grown! I'm sharing the books here as free PDFs in hopes that you might find them useful too!

What is a Decodable Book? 

Scroll down to find
my free books as PDFs

A decodable book is a phonics-based book for a beginning reader which contains only words that students know how sound out phonetically, or that they have memorized -- no guessing! For more on the science of reading, and why a phonics-based reading program is so critical to learning to read, hop over to this article. If you're thinking of teaching your child to read, Parker Phonics has a free, step-by-step guide using a synthetic phonics approach.

Synthetic Phonics Sequence
I've written each of these decodable books with a fairly narrow focus on a particular target vowel sound (or in some cases, two). My hope with this is that the books will be helpful to you no matter which Phonics program you are using. Our school uses the Get Reading Right synthetic phonics sequence. 

Like all phonics programs our starts with short vowels and hard consonants only, and then moves on to long vowel sounds, and more complex phonetic relationships like r-controlled verbs. The sequence is very similar to the "Letters and Sounds" sequence used by Bob Books and Usborne Phonics books, as well as Sounds Right, and the CKLA curriculum. There is a lot of overlap between the GRR sequence and Fundations and Jolly Phonics as well, though those programs introduce Short E and Short U sooner than ours does. I've tried to keep all these programs in mind while writing.

A note on Sight Words / Camera Words:
For readability, I do include a limited number of "sight words" in the books. These will be listed on the introductory page of each reader. However, I have a narrower definition than the traditional Dolch and Fry's sight words lists. I define "sight words" as words that are phonetically irregular or have long vowel sounds, but are used with high frequency in the English language and therefore may be memorized as whole words in the early stages of reading. High frequency words which contain only short vowels (an, get, in, on, etc.) can simply be sounded out phonetically, even by beginning readers, so you won't see them listed as sight words in my books unless they don't match the target vowel sound of the book. 

Long story short, I've tried to be thoughtful about my integration of high-frequency "sight words," and have kept various phonics progressions in mind as I've crafted my books. Hopefully you'll find a book or two that are a good fit for your program.

Happy reading!


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Level 1: Short Vowels

This first set of phonics books was written for children in the early stages of their phonics program, and includes only short vowels and hard consonants. 

short vowels:  a as in cat  //  e as in bed  //  i as in sit  //  o as in hot  //  u as in cup

hard consonants:     c as in cup  //   g as in gab

Each book targets a specific short vowel, or combination of short vowels. The focus is on simple CVC, CCVC, and CVCC words. Below, I've listed the short vowels and hard consonants that each book contains, and 99.9% of words in the story should be decodable to children who've mastered those letter-sound relationships and the few sight words listed.

Short A

Cam Adapts a Ramp - pdf
Cam Adapts a Ramp
Word Count: 43
Sight Words: the, was, a
Vowels: short a
Consonants: c, d, h, m, p, r, s, t, y

Ride along with Cam as she builds a ramp for her scooter, and learns about adaptation and perseverance along the way!

*Note: This book includes the word "adapt," which in many accents is pronounced with a Schwa sound ("uh") rather than a Short A sound as in "adaptation." For the purposes of this book (and to help with spelling later on!), you'll want to pronounce the word with a Short A while reading.
Word Count: 105
Sight Words: the, to, of
Vowels: short o
Consonants: b, c, d, f, g, l, n, p, r, s, t

Watch as Crop Bot plants and fertilizes their crops for market. But .... oops! Putting on too much fertilizer might have disastrous consequences for their friend Cod. Incorporates STEM concepts.

Short A & I

Ann the Ant - pdf
Ann the Ant
Word Count: 25
Sight Words: the, was, she
Vowels: short a, short i
Consonants: d, n, p, s, t

Ann the Ant dreams of seeing her name up in lights, but dancing in the backyard can have its mishaps. Hopefully Grandma can help.

Short A & O

Sam and Pom-Pom - pdf
Sam and Pom-Pom
Word Count: 37
Sight Words: the, she, are, to
Vowels: short a, short o
Consonants: c, g, l, m, p, s, t

Sam and Pom-Pom want to have their cake ... but they want to play pirates too. When their two worlds collide, who will save the cake? [ Hint: who saves everything around here? ;o) ]

Level 2: Short Vowels
               + digraphs and common suffixes

This second set of decodable readers still uses only short vowel sounds, but begins to incorporate slightly more complex words that employ digraphs (such as th // sh // ch ), suffixes, and other common word endings (such as:  -ed //  -es  // -tle ).

Short E

Word Count: 145
Sight Words: 11
Vowels: short e
       (a few short a and short i words too)
Consonants: all consonants except j, q, and z.
Digraphs: th, ch, sh, wh
Endings: -ed, -edge, -ettle

Help the hiker choose the best path by reading the clues left behind by their friend. Can you lead them to reunite at the campsite?

Short I

A Trip for Siskins - pdf
A Trip for Siskins
Word Count: 155
Sight Words: 12
Vowels: short i
      (a few short a words too)
Consonants: all except j, q, and y
Digraphs: th, ch, sh, wh
Endings: -ed, -es, -er (used only sparingly in this text)

Set off on a journey to reunite an injured bird with its mate. You'll traverse all seven continents, and can learn a bit about geography and biology along the way.

NOTE: A Trip for Siskins is a "Read Together" book. You will read some of the text and your child will read the decodable portions. There are supplementary non-fiction sections you can read aloud if your child wants to know more about the various birds and continents you see in the book. 

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. For more on the importance of integrating knowledge-building into early education, I highly recommend the books, articles and podcasts by Natalie Wexler.

Short Vowels (multiple)

Six Kids on Bandit Island
A Chapter Book

Word Count: 5,600
Chapters: 14
High-Frequency Words:
Tricky Words: island, fire, OK 
Vowels: short a and short i focus
       (other short vowels too)
Consonants: all hard consonants.
Digraphs: th, ch, sh, qu, wh

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?

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. 

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! 

Activity Books & Games

Rocket Puzzles Book
Rocket Puzzles PDF
Rocket Puzzles 
Activity Book

Do you have a kiddo who is a little more into math than reading? You are not alone! 

I designed this activity book for my math-loving 1st Grader. It's full of decodable word problems and other activities. So if you're looking for decodable word searches, mad libs, graphing, charting, Ven diagramming, math problems, and mazes, then this book is for you!

The problems and instructions should be decodable to a reader well-versed in words with short vowels, and a few digraphs that go beyond CVC structures.

Warning: this book is still a rough draft but some of you were interested in using what I have thus far, so I'm posting as is!

Vowels: All short vowels
Consonants: all hard consonants.
Digraphs: th, ch, sh, qu, wh
High frequency words: the, a, to, for, from, are, all, do, have, they, how, many
Tricky words: rhyme, adjective, noun, verb (in the mad lib section)

Beach Activity Book pdf
Beach Activity Book

Need some phonics-based activity sheets? Here is a book of worksheets to help your child practice their short vowel sounds!

This book is designed for younger kiddos just starting to learn to read. You'll need to read the (non-decodable) instructions for them and provide a bit of guidance. 

The book is illustrated using marine species commonly found on the Eastern shores of the central coast of Australia. Let me know if you'd like me to make one for your region!

Vowels: All short vowels
Consonants: all hard consonants.
Digraphs: sh
Tricky words: the, a, has*

Get a little more reading practice in with this set of 
80 Decodable Charades Cards. Just print, cut, and play!

If your kids are like mine, they love charades and pictionary, but the standard card sets aren't decodable. So, we created our own sets! 

This is our most basic set, which consists almost exclusively of CVC words that are easy to act out and guess. The words at the end of each page are a little trickier than the others, so you may want to leave them out if your kiddo gets too frustrated with them. After all, the whole point of Decodable Charades is to show fun reading can be!

** For an added writing challenge, we often use the following twist: when guessing our answers, once the actor confirms the answer is correct, we have to race to write out the word on our personal whiteboard. This can add an extra bit of fun and spelling practice!

Vowels: All short vowels
Consonants: all hard consonants.
Digraphs:  No vowel digraphs. 
Only a very few basic consonant digraphs and blends (ss, ll, ck, ff, sl, sm, st).
Tricky words: None.

Mama & Kid Co-Authored Books (Short Vowels)

My youngest and I have been having fun co-authoring books lately. Using some graphics I'd made for another project, she and I have been pulling together quick books as part of our daily homeschool activities. We've decided to share these short and sweet books with you!

Mad Mad's Mess PDF
These stories are a bit on the simple side as we write them very quickly, but they should give your kiddo a bit more practice with their short vowel sounds!

Mad-Mad's Mess

Word Count: 40
High-Frequency Words: the, a, to, is
Vowels: short vowels
Consonants: all hard consonants.
Digraphs: th

Level 3: Long Vowels

These readers are for children who are quite comfortable reading texts with all the short vowels and are ready to move on to learning the various long vowel spellings. Depending on the pacing of your program, this may be in their second year of school.

In each of these Long Vowel books, I include multiple spellings of the same vowel sound. For example, a Long E book might include the Long E sound spelled ee, ea, ie, e_e, and -y within the same book.

In this level, as in previous levels, I will list as sight words any irregular or long vowel words I use which are not a member of the Long Vowel family targeted in the book.  

Long E

Deep Beneath - pdf
Deep Beneath
Word Count: 230
Sight Words: 15
Vowels: Long E & all short vowels  
Consonants: All except x and y
Digraphs: th, ch, nk, ng, qu
Endings: -ed, -er, -en, -ing

When there's a storm at sea, Penny the seapony feels confined and dreary. What might cheer her up?

**Note: My son and I wrote this book as a way of working through our feelings while we were in COVID lockdown.
Word Count: 282
Sight Words: 18
Vowels: Long E & all short vowels
Consonants: All except j, x, and y
Digraphs: qu, ch, sh, th
Endings: -ed, -er, -ing

The Queen has offered a treehouse to the villager who can prepare the best meal for her feast. Can Brother or Sister win?

Long I

White - pdf
Word Count: 257
Sight Words: 16
Vowels: Long I & all short vowels
Consonants: All except x, and z
Digraphs: wh, th, ch, mb
Endings: -er, -ing, 

Two friends live in a colorless world. What will happen when one of them discovers the secret to bringing color back in?

Long E & U

Grubby the Dung Beetle - pdf
Grubby the Dung Beetle
Word Count: 211
Sight Words: 17
Vowels: Long E, Long U & short vowels
Consonants: all except q, v, and z
Digraphs: th, ng, nk
Endings: -ed, -er, -ing, -le (silent e)

Grubby and his fellow dung beetles would love nothing more than to roll around in their dung heap all day. But when a monarch butterfly demands they clean up the jungle, they may find even more fun underground ... and maybe the butterflies will learn something too. Incorporates a lot of poo jokes and a bit of STEM ;o)

**Note: My 6yo helped me write this one, so reader beware -- it is full of dung jokes!

Level 4: Long Vowels and R-controlled vowels

These books, both odes to my amazingly talented late grandmothers, are Works-In-Progress, but I have posted them here as-is while I finish them up. 

Rose Sews PDF

Rose Sews***

Word Count: 471
Vowels: Long O focus - all spellings. All Short Vowels and a few other Long Vowel sounds.

Consonants: All
Digraphs: th, sh, ch, wh, kn, ng
Endings: -er, -ed, -ing, -y

Sight Words: the, I, a, to, go, by, of, says, said, have, some, my, you, me, she, her, how, was, were, from, day, there, where, they, our, away, all

Tricky Words: Rose, out, every, begun, maybe, first, hair, call, took, orphanage, yesterday, girl, toy, meadow, very, another, love

As winter sets in, Rose finds a new passion: sewing dolls. But when an orphan needs her beloved first doll more than Rose does, will she be able to give it up?


Note that Rose Sews is still being tweaked for additional decodability and a few more story plot points, but if you have a more advanced reader who needs practice with their Long O spellings, this might work for you as is.

Claire Everywhere***

Claire Everywhere PDF

Word Count:

Vowels: R-controlled sound: "AIR" focus - all spellings (air, aer, ere, ear, are, arr, err, ary, erry, etc). 
All Short Vowels.
All Long Vowels.

Consonants: All
Digraphs: th, sh, ch, wh, kn, ng
Endings: -er, -ed, -ing, -y

Sight Words: the, all, a, I, of, one, to, into, go, by, for, from, was, were, her, have, one, you, your, they, out, about, or

Tricky Words: girl, fudge, maybe, always, avoid, inbetween, library, dictionary, thought, through, sure, favorite, book, look, world, found, glimpsed, watch, city, chocolate, mountain, lovely, roof, pool, fjord, turtle, tributary, plumeria, perfect

Claire sets out everywhere with her plate of fudge and a caravan on a search for the perfect spot. But though she travels the globe, she finds that the very best place looks a lot like home. 


Note that Claire Everywhere is still being tweaked for additional decodability, but if you have a more advanced reader who needs practice with their R-Controlled "AIR" sound spellings, this might work for you as is.

More Free Readers

Here is a Master List of Other Free Decodable Readers that I have compiled from various sources. Many of these were offered free during the COVID pandemic. Be sure to check that they are still free to download.

Contact Me 

I'm always looking for suggestions to improve these readers, so if you have any feedback, I'd love to hear from you! 

You can email me at (( carissawritesthings ))  @  (( gmail  ))  .  (( com ))

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