Frequently Asked Questions

We aim to answer all of your questions about Half Pint Readers decodable books. If you have a question that is not covered below please contact us so that we can assist you.


What are the five components of reading as recommended by the National Reading Panel?

In 2000, the National Reading Panel issued a report that identified five areas that they found critical for effective reading instruction. These five essential elements are:

  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Vocabulary
  4. Oral Reading Fluency
  5. Comprehension Strategies

What is phonemic awareness?

Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. Before children can learn to read, they must understand how the sounds in words work.

Why is phonemic awareness important?

Phonemic Awareness is important because it helps children learn to read and spell. Children who are phonemically aware are likely to have an easier time learning to read and spell than those who are not

How can I develop my child’s phonemic awareness?

Several types of activities will help your child develop phonemic awareness. It is more effective to focus on only one or two areas at a time. It is also more effective to have your child use letters of the alphabet to manipulate the sounds. (plastic letters, letter cards, dry-erase board). The following activities are excellent ways to develop phonemic awareness:

  1. Phoneme identity – What sound is the same in the words hop, hat, hug? /h/
  2. Phoneme categorization – Which word does not belong in the words tap, tug, red? Red does not belong because it begins with a different sound.
  3. Phoneme blending – What word do you hear when you blend /t/ /a/ /p/? tap
  4. Phoneme segmentation – How many sounds do you hear in the word flag? /f/ /l/ /a/ /g/ 4 sounds.
  5. Phoneme deletion – What word do you hear when you say plate without /p/? late
  6. Phoneme addition – What word do you hear when you add /s/ to the beginning of nap? Snap.
  7. Phoneme substitution – The word is cat. What do you hear when you change /c/ to /h/? hat.

What is Phonics?

Phonics involves the relationships between letters and individual sounds. Children need to understand the relationships between written letters and spoken words. The alphabet is the basic tool for learning to read and write. You can help your child learn phonics by providing them with magnetic letters, abc puzzles and blocks, letter tiles, and alphabet games. Writing the letters and words is very beneficial. Provide your child with a dry-erase board, wipe-off board, paper and writing tools. Creating abc books and stories together is a great way for them to understand phonics.

How is phonemic awareness different from phonics?

Phonemic awareness focuses on hearing the sounds in spoken language. Phonics instruction teaches the relationship between the letters of the written language and the phonemes of the spoken language. Phonics teaches children to read and write words. Phonics instruction is most effective when it is taught directly with a specific set of letters in a clearly defined order. The set of letters should include several consonants and a vowel. Stories should have mostly decodable text and controlled vocabulary for the children to read. New skills should build upon previous ones.

What is Fluency?

Fluency is the ability to read a text quickly and accurately. Fluent readers recognize words automatically and group words as they read, creating a flow of words rather than pauses between words. Fluency develops with practice. Children become more fluent readers the more they read! You can encourage your child to read by taking them to the local library and encouraging them to borrow books. If your child doesn’t already have their very own library card you can help them to get one. You can also borrow books for yourself and make family reading an important part of your daily routine. When children see their parents read, they become life-long readers, too. You can also help your child to increase word recognition by making flashcards of high frequency words (also called sight words). Words like the, he, she, said, why, take, give, yes, no, can, what, where and who are examples of some sight words. Strong phonics skills are needed to decode new words and strengthen fluency. Encourage your child to read familiar books over and over again as this helps them to develop fluency, phrasing, word recognition and most importantly confidence to read. Children that read daily become more fluent.

What is vocabulary?

Vocabulary refers to words and their meanings. Research shows that vocabulary knowledge is an important predictor of reading comprehension ability. Children must have good vocabulary skills in order to communicate effectively; these skills apply to speaking, listening, reading, and writing. You can help your child to have a large vocabulary by working with individual words, words in sentences, or words in meaningful text. You can teach your child about homonyms (words that are spelled and/or said the same way but have different meanings like lead), synonyms (different words with similar or exact meanings like baby and infant), and antonyms (words that have opposite meaning like hot and cold).You can also play games to test their knowledge of different words. When children learn the meanings of word parts, such as “un”, “dis” and “bi,” it helps them to figure out the meanings of new words. Many children use context clues (clues in the picture or text) to figure out what different words mean, however children need to have other strategies to use. You can help you child by introducing a new book to them and familiarizing your child with new and difficult words that will appear in the book. You can also encourage your child to use new vocabulary when writing to make it more expressive and detailed.

What is Comprehension?

Comprehension refers to the ability to understand what one is reading. Comprehension is more than just reading (or decoding) the words aloud. Did you know that when children are learning to read, they are without knowing what many of the words they are reading actually mean? Children with strong comprehension skills are able to relate the text they are reading to what they already know, while constructing new knowledge and understanding. Two important types of comprehension for parents to know about are:

  1. Literal Comprehension
  2. Inferential Comprehension

Literal Comprehension refers to understanding the factual information within the text. 

Inferential Comprehension refers to the understanding one has of the relationship between text and personal experiences. For example in a picture with a story character covering their ears, a literal understanding would be that the character has their hands on their ears. A child with inferential comprehension skills may say that the character has their hands over their ears because the music they hear is too loud (referring to another character playing a guitar). In order for children to appreciate, evaluate or responding emotionally to a text, they must be able to relate to the text using personal background knowledge. You can help your child to build their background knowledge by taking them to different places and talking to them often. Reading needs to be useful, enjoyable, and meaningful. You can help your child to gain both types of comprehension by encouraging them to make predictions, ask questions and to form opinions while reading. You can also help them to make the connection between their book and their own background knowledge and personal experiences. Before you read with your child, you can introduce key ideas in the text in order to increase their ability to understand the text. It is important to encourage your child to read a wide variety of books and genres like fiction, non-fiction and informational books like autobiographies and poems.

Do Half-Pint Readers incorporate the Five Essential Elements of Reading?

Yes. Half-Pint Readers incorporate the Five Essential Elements of Reading in many ways. Multi-sensory activities develop phonemic awareness and phonics. New vocabulary (decodable words and sight words) are listed at the beginning of each book for easy reference. The reader builds fluency with controlled vocabulary. The text is often predictable and there are many opportunities to practice new words. Comprehension skills are developed by a strong correlation between the illustrations and text and the stories have funny little plots to hold interest. Literal and inferential comprehension questions are listed at the end of the book. These questions help the reader relate the story to their own experiences.

Do Half-Pint Readers follow the Orton-Gillingham approach for reading instruction?

Yes. Half-Pint Readers follow the Orton-Gillingham approach for reading instruction. This approach is systematic, sequential, cumulative and multi-sensory. Half-Pint Readers gradually introduces new skills and each book builds upon the skills of previous books. There are many opportunities for practice. We also offer many multi-sensory activities to reinforce new skills. This systematic and multi-sensory approach is not only effective for beginning readers in general, but is especially helpful for dyslexic readers. Half-Pint Readers are endorsed by the Orton-Gillingham Institute for Multi-Sensory Education.

How are Half-Pint Readers unique from other phonics programs?

Half Pint Readers make learning to read easy because the vocabulary is controlled. The books follow a systematic, sequential and cumulative approach for reading instruction and each book builds upon skills from previous books. Students have numerous opportunities to practice new skills. Unlike other phonics programs, students do not have to master the entire alphabet before reading their first book. With Half-Pint Readers, students experience success right from the start and gain confidence to learn more skills! Half-Pint Readers are fun and appealing to children because each set of books centers upon an exciting theme. The stories are funny and motivating and leave the children wanting to read more! Children love how the little characters on each page face the reader, making the reader feel as though these characters are talking directly to him or her! The Half-Pint characters become familiar and personal and children can hardly wait to see where the next adventure will take them! Each adventure helps children not only learn to read, but also to learn about the world around them.

How are Half-Pint Readers sold?

Half-Pint readers are sold by level. Each level contains six different sets of books, totaling 36 books per level. 

Level A – Sights and Sounds introduces all consonant and short vowel sounds and 33 sight words. 

Level B – Blends and Ends introduces 16 blends and digraphs, 4 word endings and 24 new sight words.

 Level C – Moving A-Long introduces long vowel sounds, 9 blends, 46 sight words, 4 word endings and more.

Who can benefit from using Half-Pint Readers?

Public and private schools across the nation and globally are using Half-Pint Readers in a number of ways…as a classroom beginning program, to supplement an existing program, for remediation, RTII, ESL, special education and enrichment. They make a great addition to home and classroom libraries to help young readers build fluency. Half-Pint Readers are also a great resource for homeschooling and adult literacy.