A Need to Clarify…

Why the need to clarify? Recently, I was speaking to a principal who shared that some of her teachers removed books from their primary classroom libraries, believing that their students should only be reading decodables at these grade levels.

Yes, decodable texts are an important part of our grade one and two classrooms giving students the opportunity to practice their phonics knowledge in context. They are wonderful for shared reading during an explicit phonics lesson and then also for independent practice. Decodable texts are also important for older students who are continuing to work on their foundational skills.

As important as they are, decodable books should not be the only texts in our primary classrooms and certainly not the only books students are reading.

Let’s not forget, we want students to have the opportunity to read any book on the shelf: picture books, levelled texts, traditional nonfiction, cookbooks… whatever they choose! Will they be able to read every word on the page? Perhaps not. But if students are interested in these books, it’s worth the time they’re spending.

As Maya Angelou once said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” 

2 thoughts on A Need to Clarify…

  1. Thank you for clarifying the ways in which different books can be used in the classroom. The little books we use to support children’s reading growth – whether these be levelled books (from broader to finer systems of levelling like F&P, DRA, Reading A-Z, Reading Recovery or PM), patterned texts. decodables, or more authentic forms of printed literature – they are all ‘tools’ in the hands of the teacher. How well a book is used with a particular child and for what purpose depends greatly on the teacher’s own level of expertise in knowing how to use that ‘tool’.

    This is akin to knowing how to use any ‘tools of the trade’. I wouldn’t hang a picture on my newly plastered and painted wall using a sledge hammer. A claw hammer would be a far more effective device.

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