Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


1) How should I use this site?


First, determine which letter-sounds your child or students have been taught. If you are a parent and aren't sure which letter-sounds they know. You can do this one of two ways: a) ask their teacher for the phonics scope and sequence and ask where they are at in the program, or b) give them a short phonics screener or phonics inventory (there are free ones online) and examine their patterns of errors. Next, search for books using the search filters or scroll through the entire collection.   



2) Why are letter-sounds important to control in text? Is this research-based?


Yes! Over thirty years of research has shown that systematic and explicit phonics. instruction improves children’s reading skills and is one of the best methods for ameliorating reading difficulties. Indeed, both Pearson (1999) and Foorman, Francis, Davidson, Harm, and Griffin (2004) note that all of seminal documents in beginning reading (e.g., reading—Learning to Read: The Great Debate [Chall, 1967/1996], Becoming a Nation of Readers [Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985], Beginning to Read [Adams, 1990], and the National Research Council’s Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children [Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998]) suggest (or outright state) that reading curricula should teach grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and allow children to practice taught GPCs on decodable text.


Decoding refers to the process of determining the identity of print on the basis of letter-sound relationships (also referred to as ‘grapheme-phoneme correspondences’; Durkin 1972, pg. 13). Substantial research characterizes decoding skill as the bridge between letter knowledge and reading fluency and several developmental models of reading incorporate it as such (e.g., Perfetti & Stafura, 2014). Adams (1994) describes several ways that readers can identify a word: decoding, memorizing, and predicting. Yet, of these three, only decoding will promote development of the English alphabetic code, as the other two methods are unreliable and inefficient. Mastery of the alphabetic code is paramount in learning to read, as it allows for ongoing learning, or ‘self-teaching’ (Share, 1995) when unknown words are encountered.



3) Okay, I understand why teaching phonics is important, but why do they letter-sounds need to be controlled in the books?


While the emphasis on teaching decoding skills is important, children also require ample practice with decodable texts at their instructional level (Vadasy, Sanders, & Peyton, 2005). Morris (1999, pg. 26) states, “… the ultimate responsibility facing the classroom teacher and the tutor is the same; to pace low readers efficiently through a set of graded reading materials, ensuring that they acquire sufficient word or orthographic knowledge along the way.”


Elemeno is the only site that allows you to make sure a book is 100% decodable by allowing you to search for books with certain letter-sounds. Some publishers put this information on the back cover, or the inside pages, and some publishers don’t list it at all. This means that a child might end up with a book that is much too hard for them to decode and they can get frustrated. If this happens frequently, the child could enter a negative feedback loop and might start to dislike reading altogether. This has been referred to as the ‘Matthew effect’ by reading researchers such as Stanovich.



4) Is this aligned with the Common Core State Standards?


Yes. Decoding is also listed by name in the Common Core State Standards, which mention that students should be able to “know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words (Brady, 2012).”


5) I see letters listed on the various categories but what sound do the letters stand for?


If a consonant is listed without a / / (sound) beside it, then it represents the most common sound of that consonant. For example, if the letter ‘c’ is listed under consonants, it means that books contains the letter-sound ‘c’ making the /k/ sound (the most common sound of c). If you see ‘/ /’ next to the consonant, it means that book contains the letter making the sound in the //. 


For all the vowel sounds, look at the key-words listed next to the letter-sound filters. For short vowels, the most common sounds are represented by the letters. For example, if ‘a’ is listed under the ‘short vowels’ category for a given book, that means that book contains the most common short a sound which would be /æ/ as in “cat”.


For the digraphs, the most common sound is used, except for th. Th+ is voiced like in the word “breathe” whereas th- is unvoiced as in the word “breath”



6) How come I can’t search by Digraphs?


These might be added in the future. Most children struggle with vowels, as vowel letters have lots of different sounds they can make, so we focused on these for now.


7) Why did you choose to do only some vowel teams and not all of the vowel teams?


We chose to list the most commonly taught vowel teams. These were chosen by looking at the scope & sequences from research-based reading programs such as Wilson Just Words. These were then corroborated using the appendix of vowel sounds listed by Fry in his paper: Fry, E. (2004). Phonics: A large phoneme-grapheme frequency count revised. Journal of Literacy Research, 36(1), 85-98.



8) Why aren’t sight words listed?


I’m torn about listing sight words. Several people are putting forth the position that sight words should be taught like regular decodable words since they do contain GPCs that are decodable. See here for more information:



New methods of teaching sight words are focused on showing the decodable parts of “sight words” (for example see:


9) Did you create these books?


No. The publishers are listed below the title. Many of the free decodable books are free to distribute via a creative commons license. I have asked explicit written permission for use of the cover art on my site. None of the books text is stored on my site.


10) Why only these books? Will new books be added?


Well, you have to start somewhere! More books are constantly being added! Bookmark the page and check back frequently! If you are an author and have books that you want added please reach out to us via the contact form on the homepage.



11) I think there is an error with the site, where can I leave feedback or give suggestions?


The website is still in beta mode (it keeps improving). We welcome feedback and suggestions! Please use the contact form at the bottom of the homepage to leave and comments or suggestions!

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