Great Books to Help Kids Move from Decoding to Fluency

Updated: Mar 29

By Shawna Audet

Once students have solid decoding skills, they can move up to the next level of the reading pyramid: fluency. Fluency is when a person has the ability to reading with accuracy, speed, and a natural tone. The Magic Treehouse series, by Mary Pope Osborne, does a wonderful job at helping kids make this transition.

What is the magic that makes the Magic Treehouse books so helpful to readers who are on the brink of fluency? First of all, each book in the series begins and ends in the same way. This is helpful since repetitive reading is a proven technique to increase fluency. Secondly, the books in the series are progressive in the sense that, in general, they gradually increase in difficulty. The first book in the series, Dinosaurs Before Dark, is a level 2.5 book. The 29th book in the series is written at a grade 3.5 reading level. I say that the series is "generally" progressive because there are some books, like the fifth one in the series, The Night of the Ninja, which is written at at a 2.1 level. When my son started the series, I found out the reading levels of each of the books and gave him the lowest level ones to read first.

Another little piece of the magic of the Magic Treehouse series is that the books contain terrific stories that have the power to maintain the interest of a grade four student, even though some of them, like Night of the Ninja, are written at a level that matches the start of grade 2. The books are divided into chapters and are thick enough that kids feel the pride of graduating to reading "real" books. They also help kids make leap from picture books to chapter books because they contain some pictures and have text of an acceptable font size.