Combining the best features of decodable books and systematic exposure to high frequency words to maximise student success in learning to read.

 Learn to Read books

What is unique about the Cracking the ABC Code Decodable Learn to Read series?

To view samples of each books Click Here

  1. Font gradually becomes smaller and the amount of text on each page gradually increases.

  • The first book in the series has size 24 font and this gradually decreases to a size 13 font in Book 20.
  • Similarly, the amount of text decreases from one short sentence with a large picture in Book 1 to full pages of text with 5 small pictures in Book 20.  This makes it easy for children to transition into reading entry level chapter books.
  • A sans serif font is used as research indicates this is the easiest font for people with dyslexia to read (Luz & Baeza-Yates, 2013).
  • A double space has been used after full stops to encourage students to pause before reading the next sentence.
  1. Content words are decodable

  • The first step in reading is learning how to decode unknown words.  This requires good phonic knowledge and is critical to learning to read (see Ryder, Tunmer & Greaney, 2008).
  • Each book in the series uses decodable content words which children can decode using the phonic knowledge they have been taught in the Cracking the ABC Code Multisensory Reading Level 2
  • Each book focuses on a different digraph (sh, ch, th) and the introduction of these digraphs match the Cracking the ABC Code Multisensory Reading Level 2
  • The application of this knowledge is accumulative in that once a digraph has been taught words using those digraphs continue to be used in subsequent books in the series.
  • Click here for a list of the decodable words and the digraphs introduced in each book.
  1. Repetition of key high frequency words embedded into the story.

  • Competent reading requires fluency and fluency is attained by being able to immediately recognise words (Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2008) which is a different process to decoding (Schurz, et al., 2010).  For many readers numerous exposures to a word is required before it is immediately recognised.
  • McArthur et al.’ (2015) study found that training in both phonics and high frequency words significantly improved the reading fluency of poor readers.
  • The series teaches children 200 key words (taken from the Dolch list) which represents 70% of our everyday language.
  • These key words may or may not be words that children can decode with their current phonic knowledge, but are words that are frequently used and consequently important to learn in order to achieve fluency.
  • The words are introduced in sets of 20, with the same key words used in different sentence structures multiple times throughout two consecutive books (e.g., Book 1 & 2, Books 3 & 4).
  • Once key words have been introduced, they are continually used throughout subsequent books in the series.  This constant exposure ensures that even if children do not remember the words initially, they will be able to instantly recognise them by the end of the series.  Click here for a list of the key words.

Instructions for using the Learn to Read Series.

  1. Introduce each book by discussing the title and pictures.

  • This helps children develop prediction skills and to connect with the story.
  • The accompanying workbooks provide some suggested questions.
  1. Read the key vocabulary in the back of the book.

  • It is useful to print off two sets of the vocabulary cards and play games with the cards to help your child learn to automatically recognise the words.
  • For different games that can be played with the cards download the Learning Words Games
  1. Ask your child to read 6 pages each night

  • Regular reading is much more effective than trying to read the book in one sitting.
  • Ask your child some questions about the pages that have been read.  The accompanying workbooks provide some suggested questions and some comprehension activities.
  1. Strategies

  • Initially, acknowledge every word that is read correctly by saying, “Yes, great, uh-uh, good…” immediately after the child has read the word.  This gives the child the confidence that they have read the word correctly and can safely go onto read the next word.  Gradually reduce this feedback as the child’s confidence increases.
  • Have your child point to each word being read.  This helps develop eye tracking.
  • Hold a pencil above the first letter of each word.  This helps train the child’s eyes to move from a left to right direction and reduces reversals (e.g., was – saw).
  • If the child can’t read a word and the child has the phonic knowledge to decode the word, have the child sound out the word and then blend the sounds to determine the word.
  • If the child can’t read a word and the child does NOT have the phonic knowledge to decode the word, then just tell the child the word immediately.
  • If the child has seen the word numerous times previously, you can start by just saying the first sound in the word to see if that is a sufficient prompt for him/her to remember the word.
  • If your child is distracted by the pictures, let him/her have a quick look and then cover the picture with blank paper.  You do NOT want the child guessing words.
  1. Complete 2 pages from the accompanying Learn to Read Comprehension Workbook each night.

Cracking the ABC Code Decodable Learn to Read Books

(Click on each image to view sample pages)

Learn to Read Book 1  Learn to Read Book 2 Learn to Read Book 3 Learn to Read Book 4 Learn to Read Book 5 Learn to Read Book 6 Learn to Read Book 7






Learn to Read Book 8 Learn to Read Book 9 Learn to Read Book 10  Blank template Learn to Read books Blank template Learn to Read books Blank template Learn to Read books






Blank template Learn to Read books Blank template Learn to Read books Blank template Learn to Read books The Talking Bird Learn to Read Book 19 Learn to Read Book 20

Learn to Read Comprehension Workbooks

(Click on each image to view sample pages)



















Some Extra Motivation

Fairy Pam Pirate Ben






We all know the joy of receiving a letter in the mail.  The Fairy Pam (targeted at girls) and Pirate Ben (targeted at boys) letters utilise this concept to motivate pre-readers who are about to embark on the Cracking the ABC Code Learn to Read series.

The set consists of 13 letters addressed to your child.   Each letter contains vocabulary linked to the Learn to Read series.  This vocabulary is highlighted in yellow.  The new vocabulary associated with each letter is outlined on the ‘Vocabulary’ sheet.  Included in each letter is also a small object, toy or activity (some of these are provided and some you are required to purchase).


McArthur, G., Kohnen, S., Jones, K., Eve, P., Banales, E., Larsen, L., & Castles, A. (2015). Replicability of sight word training and phonics training in poor readers: A randomised controlled trial. PeerJ, doi:

Rello, L., & Baeza-Yates, R. (2013). Good Fonts for Dyslexia. ASSETS 2013: The 15th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference of Computers and Accessibility, Bellevue, Washington USA, 22-24 October.

Ryder , J., Tunmer, W., &  Greaney, K. (2008)  Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonemically based decoding skills as an intervention strategy for struggling readers in whole language classrooms. Reading and Writing, 21 (4),  349-369.

Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2008). Paying attention to reading: The neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Development and Psychopathology, 20(4), 1329-49.

Schurz, M., Sturm, D., Richlan, F., Kronbichler, M., Ladurner, G., & Wimmer, H.  (2010).  A dual-route perspective on brain activation in response to visual words: Evidence for a length by lexicality interaction in the visual word form area (VWFA) Neuroimage, 49(3), 2649–2661.