struggling readers

Dog on a Log Book Series – Dyslexia decodable readers review

In today’s article we’ll go through the DOG ON A LOG book series.

You may have heard of these books before. They are very popular among students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.


Well, I will go through this later on, but before I also wanted to clarify that while these books are especially good for students with dyslexia or struggling readers, they can also be used by any child in the process of learning to read.

In fact, my children are not dyslexic and I used them with them!

You’ll discover why exactly I did such a thing in this article!

Besides, we’ll have a look together in more detail at one of the Dog on a Log books, so you have a feel for how they look like and what to expect.

*Affiliate Disclosure: Some links lead to Amazon marketplace. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you). This helps keep the information on the blog free and available to everyone.

      In a rush? Dog on a log BOOKS in a nutshell!
  • Highlights:
    Decodable books.
    Based on the Orton-Guilligham approach.
    Especially good for children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties (discover why on the article)
    7 steps (each step includes 4-5 books) + 2 pre-reading steps. Check exact scope
    on the table at the bottom of this article
  • Price:
    Between $7-$12, each.
    Kindle format: approx. $5 each.

    Check Books on Amazon!

What are Dog on a Log book series? What is so special about these books?

These books are phonetically decodable. That means that the text can be easily sounded out and doesn’t contain very complicated words, or lots of irregular words and exceptions. In other words, the text is really controlled and extremely well-thought-out.

The idea is that we don’t want to confuse and overwhelm our children. What we want is for them to get enough practice at sounding out words by using texts that enable them to do this in a simple way.

In fact, when you look at these books closely, you realize that every single word used in these books is there for a reason. There’s really nothing left at chance!

These books (written by Pamela Brookes to teach her own dyslexic daughter to read) are based on the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching reading.

Step 3 - Dog on a Log Chapter Books - Orton- Gilligham based decodable books
Example of one of the Dog on a Log Chapter Books. Step 3. Orton- Gilligham based decodable books.

Not sure if you’ve heard of this approach to teaching reading before. The Orton-Gillighan approach was developed back in early 20thcentury by Samuel Torrey Orton, a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist at Columbia University, and the educator and pshycologist Anna Guilligham, to help struggling readers and students with dyslexia.  Orton-Guillighan is an explicit, structured, sequential phonics-based approach combined with multisensory experiences for a more robust learning experience.

And the good thing is that they don’t look at all like baby books. Many of them are, in fact, chapter books. There is a storyline, there is something interesting happening… it’s not just a bunch of words put together!

Looking for a super comprehensive list of good-quality decodable books. Check this article out!

Still confused? Want to learn the 5 KEY differences between decodable and leveled books? Check this one out!

The reason why I decided to get these books with my (at the time) 6-year- old kid is that I wanted to give her  the experience of being able to read chapter books all by herself because… what a sense of achievement of her, don’t you think?


Also, what an amazing way to get your child into independent reading from an early age!

Besides, I love that by reading these books at this age she was definitely consolidating and registering all that she was learning about phonics in her lessons.

As mentioned before, when you go through the text you realize, that there is nothing random on the text or left at chance!

Let’s look together now at an example! This way it will be so much easier to understand how everything falls into place.

An example of a Dog a Log book

In this specific book (Step 3 on the series) we are going to focus a lot on:

ang, ing, ong, ung, ank, ink, onk, unk.

But, we are also going to go over things that we’ve learned on previous steps, such as:

-ck, ch, wh, th, sh or “all” words.

Phonics Progression Covered in Book #3 of the Dog on a Log series.
Phonics Progression Covered in Book #3 of the Dog on a Log series.

And these are the sight words that will be used in this book…

Sight words covered in this book.
Sight words covered in this book.

By the way, these have not been introduced all of sudden. Remember this is step 3 of the series!

These words have been introduced gradually, so we do not overwhelm children. This is especially key if you are using them with dyslexic children.

For a read-aloud of a couple of pages of the first story in Step 3, watch the video below. The read-aloud starts at minute 03:12 (already pre-set) and goes until minute 04:17.

If you’ve watched the read-aloud, I guess you can see how the text goes over and over through the phonics rules that we are focusing on in Step 3 and in the previous steps in a very smart way,  giving the child lots of opportunities for practice.

It also introduces repetition. Again,  this is done in a very smart way, so the child doesn’t even notice it!

Besides, there’s a storyline, something interesting happens! As mentioned before on the article, it’s just not a bunch words put together! That’s actually great and unfortunately not the case in many decodable books! 

The DOG ON A LOG books seem to have many benefits for all children in general, but…

Why is it  that the Dog on Log books are particularly good for children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties?

For a number of reasons:

  • They use exceptionally big letters.
  • The text extremely controlled. It actually follows a structured/ Orto-Gillingham phonics sequence, as we’ve learned before.
  • They are chapter books and look like big children’s books for a reason. They want students using them (even if they are older) feeling that they are reading big kids’ books. As most decodable readers are actually created with young readers in mind, the stories, the pictures and the general  feel of these book can end up being too “childish” for an older kid.

Are these books part of a specific reading program?

They are not. You don’t have to get a reading program to go along with them. They are actually really affordable, in the region of $12/book.

However, as prices vary all all the time, you can check final prices on the links below (see table). To make sure that what is covered on the step you buy goes in line with your child’s phonics level, check the progression below.

StepWhat's coveredBook TitleFinal Price
Pre- Readers (book 1)Phonological/Phonemic AwarenessBefore the Squiggle Code (A Roadmap to Reading)Check Final Price on Amazon
Pre-Readers (books 2)Phonemic Awareness/PhonicsThe Squiggle Code (Letters Make Words)
Check Final Price on Amazon
Pre-Readers (book 3)Phonemic Awareness/PhonicsKids' Squiggles (7 Short Stories in 1 book. Also available individually)Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 1Consonants, primary sounds
Short vowels
Digraphs: ch, sh, th, wh, ck
2 and 3 sound words
Closed Syllables
The Dog on the Log, The Pig Hat, Chad the Cat, Zip the Bug, The Fish and the Pig.
Available individually, or as a chapter book.
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 2Bonus letters (f, l, s, z after short vowel)
–s suffix
Mud on the Path, The Red Hen, The Hat and Bug Shop, Babs the Bot, The Cub.
Available individually, or as a chapter book.
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 3Letter Buddies: ang, ing, ong, ung, ank, ink, onk, unkMr Bing Has Hen Dots, The Junk Lot Cat, The Bonk Punk Hot Rod, The Ship with Wings, The Sub in the Fish Tank.
Available individually, or as a chapter book.
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 4Consonant blends to make 4 sound words
3 and 4 sound words ending in –lk, -sk
The Push Truck, The Sand Hill, Lil Tilt and Mr. Ling, Musk Ox in the Tub, Trip to the Pond.
Available individually, or as a chapter book.
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 5Digraph blend –nch to make 3 and 4 sound words
Silent e, including “-ke”
"vce" Syllables
Bake a Cake, The Crane at the Cave, Ride a Bike, Crane or Crane?, The Swing Gate.
Available individually, or as a chapter book.
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 6Exception words containing: ild, ind, old, olt, ostChapter Books:
The Colt, The Gold Bolt, Hide in the Blinds, The Stone Child, Tolt the Kind Cat.
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 75 sounds in a closed syllable word plus suffix -s
3 letter blends and up to 6 sounds in a closed
syllable word (script, spring)
Chapter Books:
Quest for a Grump Grunt, The Blimp, The Spring in the Lane, Stamp for a Note, Stripes and Splats
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 8Two-syllable words with 2 closed-syllables, not
blends (sunset, chicken, unlock)
Chapter Books:
Anvil and Magnet, The Mascot, Kevin's Rabbit Hole, The Humbug Vet and Medic Shop, Chickens in the Attic
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 9Two-syllable words with all previously introduced
sounds including blends, exception words, and
silent “e” (blacksmith, kindness, inside)
Vowel digraphs: ai, ay, ea, ee, ie, oa, oe (rain,
play, beach, tree, pie, goat, toe)
Double vowel syllables
Chapter Books:
Trip to Cactus Gulch 1: The Step-Up Team
Trip to Cactus Gulch 2: Into the Mineshaft
Play the Bagpipes
The Hidden Tale 1: The Lost Snapshot
Check Final Price on Amazon
Step 10Open syllables (be, so, hi)
"Y" as a vowel with the long "I" sound in open
syllables (my, spry)
Two-syllable words containing:
Open syllables (beside, rerun)
Vowel teams ai, ay, ea, ee, ie, oa, oe (raindrop)
Previously learned sight words (somewhere)
The Chicken Bus Express to the Redo Shop
The Rewind Clock: The Tale Begins
Trip to the Wildlife Rehab
The Hidden Tale 2: The Secret Unfolds
Check Final Price on Amazon

Deciding which book to buy can get confusing! The books are available both as individual books or as chapter books.

The purple books (like the one below) are individual books. They also contain less words per page.

You can also get them as chapter books (red books). When buying chapter books, bear in mind that there will also be slightly longer (more words per page).

Any cons to the Dog on a Log Book Series?

If you have a really young reader, maybe this is not the best option!

They may prefer shorter books that  and feel more like young readers’ books. In fact, I wouldn’t expect a young child to love the DOG ON A LOG books really.

Luckily there is a great deal of options these days when it comes to decodable books. However, unfortunately not all of them are created equally: not all of them offer a well-thought-out scope or sequence for introducing phonics rules and definitely not all of them have interesting stories and characters!

You can check this article out for a super comprehensive list of good quality decodable readers with lots of explanations as well about you can expect.



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