Reading Teacher

I See Sam Books: Fun-Filled Stories Lead to Phonics Success

I See Sam Books: Fun-Filled Stories Lead to Phonics Success

Finding books that engage and excite young readers is no small task. For parents and educators looking to upgrade their bookshelves, the I See Sam book series will quickly become a staple in their collection of phonics- and fun-filled books.


Reading Teacher is partially based on the I See Sam series, which has been downloaded from the Apple Bookstore over 1 million times since its inception. Today, we’ll explain how these simple books help young readers make big strides, and how Reading Teacher uses the same principles to ensure a strong reading foundation in preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school.


The Science Behind I See Sam Books


The I See Sam Readers use the Reading for All Learners (RALP) curriculum, which is appropriate for K-3. Like other science-based curricula, this program provides systematic, explicit approaches to early phonics instruction. Of course, most kids don’t just volunteer to do phonics worksheets: they need engaging, colorful stories to develop a positive attitude toward reading while learning the basic skills for success.


Using small, skill-based books, the I See Sam accomplishes just that. Each book is based on RALP, which is supported by over 30 years of research. The books are well aligned with the views of the National Reading Panel (NRP) as well as the Institute of Education Sciences, both of which address reading instruction research and practice.

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How Do the I See Sam Books Work?


Each book includes wacky stories and silly characters, which motivate children to read for pleasure - not just to work on their phonics skills. The underlying RALP curriculum touches on the Five Big Ideas of Reading, which we practice here at Reading Teacher. If you’re looking for new phonics readers, keep these five building blocks in mind as you read and work with your student.


1. Phonemic Awareness


Blending, segmenting, isolating, and recognizing: believe it or not, your student will develop all of these skills (and more!) as they learn to manipulate various units of sound. In 2006, the National Institute for Literacy highlighted these skills as predictive of long-term reading success. Together, they form the basis of phonemic awareness, which is the ability to manipulate sounds spoken words.


2. Phonics


At Reading Teacher, we talk about phonics all the time, but it’s heartfelt: we love phonics. In Put Reading First (2006), the authors write that phonics teaches children “that there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds.” Especially when read with another person, the I See Sam books reinforce the connection between speaking, reading, and listening.


3. Reading Fluency


Fluency is the ability to read smoothly and accurately with the appropriate expression. The RALP curriculum directly addresses text fluency: each RALP assessment specifies the criteria for “mastery,” which measures how quickly and accurately readers progress through the book.


4. Vocabulary


Vocabulary is a marker of reading fluency, The NRP acknowledges the connection between oral and written vocabulary and comprehension: in short, the more words that readers know, the more clues they have available to decode less-familiar words and phrases.


5. Comprehension


Comprehension relies on the previous four skills. When readers comprehend what they’re reading, they’re able to discuss it with others, which further deepens their understanding of the story.

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Where to Find I See Sam Books


You can find I See Sam books online, in most bookstores, or even in your local library. Students will encounter similar stories and reading exercises through Reading Teacher, which includes 100 animated stories across 25 different skill levels.


With 141 books and more than 300 reading lessons, you’re bound to find an I See Sam story that engages and motivates your reader. Each book gradually introduces new sounds and words, which are embedded in easy-to-follow narratives.


Decodable readers, science-backed lessons, and kid-friendly stories: these three elements will help kids find success and joy in every book.




  • Reading Teacher is based on the I See Sam book series, which uses short, engaging stories to reinforce five building blocks of reading:
    • Phonemic Awareness
    • Phonics
    • Fluency
    • Vocabulary
    • Comprehension
  • The efficacy of these books is supported by over 30 years of reading science. I See Sam continues to inform the stories and exercises used by Reading Teacher and other major literacy programs.

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