People (usually teachers) often ask me for “decodable stories”. My answer is always as follows: I can understand why you’d want them but it is far, far better to have a young person or adult reading something that the rest of their peers can read.

Once you’re trained in That Reading Thing or have worked your way through the manual, then you will be ready to start looking for appropriate real reading material.

If your student is working at the Foundation Levels then you need to find small chunks of text that form complete thoughts. (see Random Acts of Kindness in the Book Suggestions post) Look for paragraphs which have a majority of words that are decodable or decodable with one sound given. Fill in the rest and remember “The Deal”.

If your student is working at the Advanced Levels then it’s much easier to find whole pages that fit the criteria. Again, there are some favourites in the Books post but I also like to use internet news sources for my area. Googling your local paper should get you to the right one.

If you’re using a printable online news source, copy and paste it into a Word document, increasing the font to size 14 and the line spacing to 1.5. Always keep the journalist’s name, the date and the title of the publication. Also keep any photos in the article. If you’re using a story that you’ve seen in a paper news source, you can make a copy from the online version of the paper, but please always bring the original source with you to the lesson. It is hugely confidence building for a young person to know that they’re reading something that you read at home.

A word about sports journalism. When I first started working with teenage boys I thought I would get great reading material from the sports pages. Sadly, sports articles often read like poetry and are very hard for a struggling reader to follow. A football supporter pointed out that it would get pretty boring reading, week after week, “He kicked the ball. The ball went in the net.” Hence the poetry.

When you’re choosing text look at the “decodability”, but also look for simple sentence structure and not too much flowery or symbolic language.

If you’d like to share text that works for your lessons, please send it by email and I’ll try to get it all online. (permission depending)