There are some great high/low (high level of content/ low reading age) books on the market these days, particularly for boys. Ransom and Rising Stars have published some really good quality books. What is the difference between those books and decodable readers for older, struggling readers?
I believe that many older readers have gaps in their phonic knowledge and this major obstacle stops them from making progress. It is great for them to read books at their reading level that engage them – BUT what they mostly need is to be taught the phonic code so that they can decode longer words with complex spellings.
To achieve this, first they need an assessment that will indicate where the missing gaps are; then they need to be taught the missing phonic knowledge or skill and lastly they will need decodable reading books that are age appropriate. The pupils read the books and experience success using the tools they have been taught. This way the gaps are filled and the pupils can progress to the next level, while self esteem and confidence is built. The Totem and Talisman Series were published with this aim in mind. Once the phonic code has been mastered the pupils can practise their reading using the high/low reading books.
If you have used these books with your pupils - we would love to hear about how they worked with your pupils.