Moon Dogs Extras – Independent Review

Md extras covers fans uk 790x900

Ann Sullivan of Phonics for Pupils with Special Educational Needs is an experienced SEND teacher, who has created her own phonics programme specifically for SEND children. This is what she has to say about our latest set of Books: Moon Dogs Extras for Catch-Up Readers.

If there is one question I am asked more than any other by teachers, teaching assistants and parents, it’s this one… “Can you recommend any good reading books?”

Decodable readers are a must. Like all children, those with special educational needs must learn phonics, there’s no better way to learn to ‘lift the words from the page’. Phonics should and can be made accessible to all children, including those with more than mild SEND. Decodables can be matched to the phonics the child is learning in lessons which means they will be able to read all the words in the books for themselves. This is a great boost to confidence whilst also providing an opportunity for them to apply their growing phonic knowledge and skills to read and enjoy stories. For children with SEND, there are a few more things that we need to consider.

Sample page from Moon Dogs Extras showing diverse characters and engaging text.
With engaging stories and diverse and relatable characters these books appeal to older learners.

Multiple opportunities to practise decoding

We know that children with SEND work more slowly through a phonics programme because they need lots and lots of experience of learning about new sounds and letters and lots and lots of practise using their knowledge and skills. So, at each stage, they need lots and lots of books to read. The Moon Dogs Extra series provide three separate story books for each level (four if you add in the original Moon Dogs 1 series), giving children multiple opportunities to practise their decoding and experience success. They no longer need to be stuck with just one reading book for ages and ages!

With engaging stories and diverse and relatable characters these books appeal to older learners. But there’s more. Children with SEND may begin learning to read later than their peers and take longer so they are likely to be older than other beginner readers. Being given books aimed at five- and six-year-olds when you are ten can be disheartening. The stories and illustrations can seem ‘babyish’ and are not likely to interest, entertain and inspire them. They need to access books that are age-appropriate. Moon Dogs provides stories that are relevant and appealing to older learners and the illustrations cleverly show characters that are ‘age-neutral’. Any age reader (up to teenagers) can identify with them and the things they get up to. The language in the books is simple and clear, yet the stories are engaging and fun, centred around a group of friends and their everyday experiences.

Supplementary activity book

The activity book that accompanies the readers is a great way to supplement your phonics scheme with activities that are rooted in the context of the book the child is reading. As well as some great ‘phonics activities’ such as word building and filling in the missing sounds, there are other activities that address the wider view of reading, not just phonics. These include retelling the story (with words and visuals) and make a page for a comic, which work on oral language structure and reading comprehension. There is also an opportunity to provide some independent work using the word trail cards which require the child to read single words and match them to pictures in an activity that is self-checking. All this and there are games in both the books themselves and the activity book.

So, if I am asked the question… “Can you recommend any reading books?” I can easily answer it. “Yes!”

Find the Moon Dogs Extras Books here.

Find the Moon Dogs Extras activity book here.

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