Junior Learning Decodable Readers – Fiction Review

Phonics system

Decodable Readers

With the school holidays nearly over and school about to restart (I can hear millions of parents and carers cheering in unison) there will be a new intake of nursery and reception children entering the system. This means the younger ones will need to start learning to read using a phonics system and we found the Decodable Readers Fiction books from Junior Learning a great help in doing so (especially with Twin 2 who seemed reluctant to read). We were sent phases 1-4 (there are 6 phases available along with phases 1-6 in a non-fiction format) to try out.

Each book and phase has been specifically written for the progression of Letters and Sounds, teaching emergent readers letters and phonics sounds to more confident readers to read on their own. Each phase contains 12 books that are 8 pages in length each and all feature colourful illustrations.

As mentioned earlier, we received Decodable Readers Phases 1-4:

Phase 1 – Phonemic Awareness: A pre-reader that covers Phonemic Awareness. These are shared reading books so they are to be read to children so that they are able to hear and identity letter sounds (phoneme sounds). This phase is Book Band Pink (Emergent) / Guided Reading A / Reading Level 1.

This set contains 12 titles; Day on the Farm, Where Do I Live?, A Day at the Beach, My Family, Breakfast Time at Home, Playtime with Friends, Traffic Jam, At the Park, Mud Puddles, First Day at School, Riding My Bike and Jump, Jump.

Decodable Readers

These 8 page books focus on letters; i.e. P is for Pig, W is for Wet etc. and are illustrated with bright colours so that the words used can also be visualised.

Phase 2 – Letter Sounds: Letter Sounds covering Blending. This phase of books starts with CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant) such as cat, pat, sat, decodable regular words for this level, moving on to tricky words (words that are not decodable by children at this phase, i.e. the, to, into etc.) using the first 21 letter sounds. This phase is Book Band Red (Early 1) / Guided Reading B-D / Reading Level 2-5.

This set contains 12 titles; Pat, Tap, Sat, A Man in a Pit, A Cat on Top, A Rack in a Sack, His Big Leg, Bug is Boss, Rat up a Hill, Sad Dad, Fun in the Sun, Get to the Log Hut, Run Rabbit, Run! and A Bag of Nuts.

Decodable Readers

Books 11 & 12 are revision books recapping what was learned in the previous titles and again illustrated well to accompany the text. While starting off with CVC words that are repetitive rhyming words they build up into longer sentence structures.

Phase 3 – Phonics: Phonics covering the next 22 letter sound, decodable regular words (according to the week by week progression of Letters and Sounds) and tricky words. This phase is Book Band Red (Early 1) / Guided Reading B-D / Reading Level 2-5.

This set contains 12 titles: A Cat in a Jet, Buzz the Fox, A Fish on a Ship, A Thin Moth, A Sheep in a Jeep, Zig and Zag, Food at the Zoo, Hoot the Owl, I Park My Car, Baba the Bear, Farmer Ted and Into the Woods.

Phase 4 – Blends: Blends introduces 38 different adjacent consonants (blends), decodable regular words (according to the week by week progression of Letters and Sounds) and tricky words. This phase is Book Band Yellow (Early 2) / Guided Reading B-E / Reading Level 2.8.

This set contains 12 titles: Camp at the Pond, A Nest is Lost, The Bedroom Helper, Frog in a Tree, Blast Off!, Milk in a Glass, Clown Dents a Spoon, Can You See The Stars?, Skunk Smells Bad, Crunch, Munch!, Spring Storms and Gretel and the Grunch.

Phase 5 covers Vowel Sounds (Book Band Orange (Fluency) / Guided Reading H-J / Reading Level 14-18). Phase 6 covers Spelling (Book Band Turquoise (Fluency 2) / Guided Reading H-K / Reading Level 16-20).

Overall, these decodable readers are a great series of short books (8 pages each) to introduce children to letter sounds, phonics, blending and decoding words (regular and tricky words) with the aim to help children read independently.

For parents/carers all the books have what letters/sounds each book covers on the cover and inside front cover and the word count for each book in the back.

They are all beautifully illustrated in bright and vibrant colours, illustrated by Anna Evans, and accompany the text, written by Anna Kirschberg, very well.

While some are easier for children to read than others, there are a number that feature words that children would be unfamiliar with so do teach them to sound out and decode words rather than knowing the words by sight.

The twins are at different levels from each other with their reading and overall education, with one having more interest in learning. Twin 1 is reading by himself now while Twin 2 is still working through these books. Both are progressing well, especially Twin 2 and they are giving him the confidence to start reading other things (road signs, juice cartons, slightly harder picture books etc.) and he is now enjoying reading.

As the back of each book has the book banding colour, reading level and guided reading level they can quite easily be used with other reading schemes to keep them in line with each other.

At £19.99 per phase, you may consider them expensive, but I think they are great value. It only equates to £1.67 per book as there are 12 in each phase and if helps a child learn to read they are a bargain, especially as I believe being able to read from a young age improves every aspect of education and understanding.

Teaching your children to read is an important skill to learn as it will be the base for their entire education and these decodable readers are a great place to start.

Rating: 5/5

RRP: £19.99 (each phase)

For more information or to buy visit juniorlearning.co.uk.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided with a free copy of these books for the purposes of writing a honest and impartial review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.