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Text Types in Early Reading

In the ever-evolving landscape of early reading instruction, the careful selection of texts plays a pivotal role in shaping the developmental path of students. This review discusses three text types often used to teach children how to read—decodable, readable, and authentic—showing their significance and the integration of these approaches within Wilson Language Training’s Fundations® program.

Decodable Texts: Building the Phonics Foundation 


Decodable text is written material that learners can easily read using phonetic rules, letter sounds, and spelling patterns taught before. The design aims to be accessible to readers who have learned these concepts. In a decodable text, almost every word has been explicitly taught to the reader, either through direct instruction on letter-sound associations or exposure to common spelling patterns.  


Decodable texts serve as the initial stepping stones for early readers, providing a practical platform to practice and apply phonics skills. These texts are carefully crafted with words that align with the phonetic rules and letter-sound connections introduced in the learning process. These texts are cumulative in nature, incorporating previously taught skills that provide students with continuous exposure. 


Decodable texts are important because they help students connect what they’ve learned about phonics to reading real sentences and stories. These texts are instrumental in building decoding skills, a fundamental pillar for achieving reading fluency. 

Decodable Text and Fundations

In the early stages of the Fundations program, decodable texts serve as extensions to lessons, providing a platform for students to apply their knowledge and reinforce phonetic principles. The program places emphasis on transitioning from accurate reading in isolation to achieving automaticity within a Unit. Through the introduction of new concepts and extensive practice, students gain the ability to read words associated with taught concepts automatically within the controlled text.  

The multimodal approach proves particularly beneficial for mastering keyword structures, a crucial component of decoding skills essential for automatic text application.  As students read decodable texts, the goal is to strengthen their knowledge of phonetic principles and enable them to use letter-sound relationships and phonics rules. This helps build reading fluency and decoding skills, making a smooth transition from practicing individual skills to reading connected texts. 

The goal is to instill automatic reading, enabling students to effortlessly apply their skills to connected texts. Decodables act as a bridge during this transition, facilitating the shift from practicing phonics in isolation to integration with texts. This bridge supports students in practicing, applying, and achieving automaticity in their reading skills—a vital step in their literacy journey. 

Real-World Application

Understanding the application of decodable texts is crucial. Early readers, armed with decoding skills from  Fundations, transition seamlessly from decoding words to reading fluently. This usefulness is evident as they encounter and conquer more complex language in everyday reading scenarios. 

Readable Texts: Challenging Readers When They Are Ready 


A readable text is a carefully selected or crafted written material designed to be easily understood and navigated by readers at a specific level of proficiency. In the context of literacy instruction, it is comprised of words and structures that align with the reader’s current skill set, ensuring that they can comprehend and accurately read most of the text.


Readable texts represent the next phase in the reading journey, selected or crafted to be at a level where students can read with a high level of accuracy and comprehension. These texts strike a blend, slightly more challenging than decodable texts, incorporating a mix of familiar and new words. 


The importance of readable texts lies in their ability to help students apply decoding skills within a more authentic reading context. As students progress through Fundations, readable texts contribute significantly to the development of fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. 

As students gain command of word structures through the Fundations program, it opens their world to exploring readable texts that expand their reading experiences. While these texts maintain control over vocabulary and difficulty, they introduce a nuanced complexity beyond strictly decodable texts. The focus here is on providing opportunities for students to practice decoding skills while simultaneously building fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. 

Real-World Application

Readable texts help students transition from simple texts to more complex ones, preparing them for real-life reading situations. By gradually increasing difficulty, students gain confidence and skills to read a wider range of materials with ease, exposing them to knowledge-building experiences.  

Beyond Decodable and Readable Texts 

Decodable and readable text plays a crucial role in shaping students into passionate lifelong readers. It moves them beyond foundational skills and isolation, guiding their progression from learning how to read to the pivotal stage of reading to acquire knowledge about the world. This transition not only equips them with proficiency in navigating authentic texts but also fosters a genuine passion for exploring a wide range of subjects through literature. 

Authentic Texts: Fostering Proficiency and Passion for Reading  

Authentic text, a high-quality narrative or informational/noncontrolled text challenging students beyond their decoding ability, aims to enhance reading skills and comprehension. Specifically chosen for their complexity, these texts promote higher-level thinking, fostering a deep understanding of language and content. Their significance lies in advancing reading proficiency by immersing students in sophisticated language and nurturing critical thinking. Beyond instruction, authentic texts are fundamental to a comprehensive literacy curriculum, instilling a genuine love for reading through exposure to diverse genres and styles. 

Fundations aims to guide students to the point of fluently and independently reading authentic texts. Distinguished by their diversity in vocabulary, sentence structure, and themes, these texts present challenges that prompt students to apply their foundational skills to a broader array of reading materials. The overarching objective is crystal clear: to deepen comprehension, promote critical thinking, and cultivate a lasting passion for reading. Fundations serves as the essential foundation to achieve this goal, ensuring that students develop the skills necessary to navigate and appreciate authentic texts independently. 

Real-World Application 

The ultimate measure of success lies in the real-world application of authentic texts. As students navigate these more complex materials, they not only demonstrate advanced decoding and comprehension skills but also develop a genuine appreciation for diverse literature. This appreciation becomes a cornerstone for a lifelong love of reading. 

A Comprehensive Approach 

In literacy instruction, a comprehensive approach involves progressing from decodable to readable and, ultimately, to authentic texts. This path helps students improve reading and gain confidence by introducing different types of texts and genres. The goal is to cultivate proficient and enthusiastic readers who can comprehend and enjoy a wide range of texts. 

The Teacher’s Role in Facilitating Progression 

Central to the success of this comprehensive approach is the role of the teacher. In each stage, educators guide students through the intricacies of decoding, fluency, and comprehension. They tailor instruction to meet individual needs, providing support as students navigate progressively challenging texts. The teacher becomes a facilitator, nurturing not just literacy skills but also a love for the written word. 

Nurturing Proficient and Passionate Readers 

In summary, including decodable, readable, and authentic texts is crucial for the literacy journey. This part significantly shapes students, preparing them for a lifetime of successful reading.  Wilson Language Training’s Fundations serves as a foundational pillar for students embarking on their reading journey. By starting with decodable texts, Fundations lays the groundwork for essential reading skills, ensuring students grasp fundamental phonetic principles.

As they progress, Fundations provides a solid foundation, setting students up and preparing them to tackle various text types, including readable and authentic texts. The program equips students with the decoding skills and fluency necessary for a lifelong experience prompting curiosity about the world through literature.