Six sets of the delightful, affordable, download-and-print Phonics With Feeling decodable books by Gaia Dovey are now available from the Spelfabet shop.
You can download and print a free sample book here. It’s about the ups and downs of siblings and pets, sharing and drawing boundaries, and solving problems. One boy I know got to this page…
….and exclaimed, “That’s just like my sister! She always wants to do my things, and it’s very annoying!” He was hooked. The cute illustrations add emotion and humour to the story. Some children might enjoy colouring them in.
Each set of books has a parent/aide edition (print up to 5 copies @ 40c per print) and a teacher/clinician edition (print up to 30 copies @ 20c per print). Not as cheap as the free-till-the-end-of September Little Learners Love Literacy apps (so generous!), but an affordable way to get multiple copies of printed decodable books.
These books are intended to complement, not replace, existing decodable readers. They aren’t for absolute beginners. The Initial Code Review set is intended for children towards the end of their first year of schooling or in Year 1. The Extended Code sets are intended for children in Years 1 and 2. Depending on the child, any of these books can be used with a slightly older learner who needs graphemes introduced at a fairly gentle pace, and heaps of practice. There’s only so many times you can read the same book.
These books have a higher word count than the typical decodable book, so are perfect for consolidation/fluency work. I imagine they’d also be great for extension work for children who can easily read the shorter, simpler books that are at the right level for most of their classmates, but haven’t yet been taught more complex spellings.
The author of these books has a PhD in literature, taught English language and literature, worked in teacher preparation, and originally wrote the books for her grandchildren. It shows. They aim to provide both reading success, and the pleasure and emotional engagement which motivates children to read. Their extra length allows for cohesive narratives, entertaining plots, engaging characters and themes worth talking about.
The Phonics With Feeling books originally had their own website, but it was too much hassle to run (if you’ve ever run a website, you’ll know what I mean). I nearly cried when they disappeared, and contacted the author to find out why. I’m already dealing with the hassle of a website, and she’s really nice, so we decided to join forces.
Only the first six of an eventual eleven sets of books are available now. The rest are on their way. The original books are being reorganised to match the teaching sequence in the Spelfabet version 3 workbooks and other materials, and a few extras are being written and illustrated.
Each set of books is downloaded as a pdf file, which you save to your computer, then print with (preferably) coloured covers. We’re using 220 gsm coloured cardboard for covers, printing the covers first, via the rear feed of the printer. Then we print the rest of the book on A4 paper on the “flip on short edge” setting, then assemble, fold and staple the books with our special book-stapling stapler (probably not its real name).
I hope you like these books as much as I do, and that they make many children excitedly shout things like, “That’s just like my little sister/brother!” while getting enough practice of major spelling patterns to become skilled and enthusiastic readers.
PS on 15/9/21: I’ve started making Wordwall quizzes as follow-up activities for these books, which can be played online for free, but you might need a subscription to access the printable version. The top of the first printable quiz looks like this: