The Reading Genie Bruce Murray, College of Education


Help your child learn to read with stories from our new decodable book series.

Lad and His Pals (decodable stories developing short vowels and consonant digraphs shch, and th) and Fun and Games with Lad and Slim (decodable stories developing long vowels and other vowels) are now available as print books and as an e-book for iPhones and iPads. Find more information here.

Lad and his Pals features 14 engaging decodable stories for practicing the five short vowels and the consonant digraphs sh, ch, and th. With decodable stories, phonics works to unlock the words, opening a window on the adventures of animals and children who become familiar storybook friends.

Fun and Games with Lad and Slim, our long vowel series of decodable stories for beginning readers, has 15 engaging decodable stories for advanced beginners: two stories for each long vowel, as well as stories for more advanced vowel digraphs (er, ir, and ur; ar and or; ou and ow; au and aw; and oi and oy). With the wider pool of words, we were able to create some wonderful stories in Fun and Games with Lad and Slim. If you are like me, you will laugh out loud with some stories, and with others, you may get a lump in your throat.

Past attempts at creating decodable stories rarely succeeded. Teachers and parents, steeped in the rich atmosphere of beautifully illustrated children’s literature, groaned over joyless prose like “Dan had a tan fan.” We have incorporated the best features of past decodable stories: strong story structure, inviting illustrations, and a growing set of correspondences allowing an ever richer pool of words.

In addition, we’ve maintained a common cast of characters across the stories. Like the Dick and Jane stories read by earlier generations, our stories follow two families of children and animals through a series of adventures, inviting children to read new stories with familiar characters and situations. However, unlike Dick and Jane, our children are culturally diverse, and some of the most important characters are animals—a dog, two cats, some angry geese, a mischievous snake, and a pet pig.

Teachers and parents are looking for books beginners can read successfully. They know children can’t enjoy the wonderful stories in children’s literature until they learn to read words easily. Lad and His Pals and its companion volume, Fun and Games with Lad and Slim, provide teachers and parents with fun and engaging stories children can read without guesswork as a bridge to children’s literature.

Teachers in primary classrooms will find these books useful for phonics instruction with beginners and with struggling readers. Home-schooling parents will find in these books a basic resource for helping their children develop decoding ability with the most useful letter-sound correspondences for learning to read words in English.

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Last modified: July 16, 2019