Learning to Read with Reader Pens

Reading pens seem to be all the rage for teaching young kids how to read these days.  The first of its kind to catch my eye was the Croco Pen, available in “Choo Choo Train”, MPH Bookstore and Times Bookstore.  Next up was the Leapfrog Tag Reader which I saw in Mothercare.  Then I spied the I-Pen Robin Readers in Popular (currently the I-Pen is only available in the Sunway Popular branch).  When I got online to find out more about these interesting products, I discovered an additional two brands – Poingo and Vtech Bugsby.  I should have figured that Vtech would have one since Vtech and Leapfrog always seem to do things in pairs.

At present, I’ve only seen the Croco Pen, Leapfrog Tag and Robin I-Pen available in Malaysia, although all are available on Amazon.  I’ve managed to find Youtube clips demonstrating how each one works (which appears to be pretty much the same).

Croco Pen

From Amazon:

From the Baby Loft:

  • Jumbo Pack (pen, super cartridge, 8 books, 200 talking stickers, 200 talking flash cards) – RM399.00

Unique features: can be used with headphones, talking stickers, talking flash cards


Poingo Interactive Reader

From Amazon:

Unique features: favourite childrens’ titles (Disney, Thomas and Friends, Sesame Street)


Vtech Bugsby

From Amazon:

Unique features: favourite childrens’ titles (Dora, Scooby Doo)


Leapfrog Tag Reading System

From Amazon:

  • Reading System (comes with three books and the pen reader) – $80
  • Individual Books – $12-15

Unique features: grows with your child (they have a junior system)


I-Pen Robin Readers

From Popular Singapore:

From Popular Malaysia:

  • Pen Reader – RM39
  • Set of five for about RM50

Unique features: price


When it comes to new technology in toys, I admit that I’m usually one of the first to get suckered into it.  It was with great restraint that I held off buying the Croco Interactive Learning System when I first clapped eyes on it.  I think the only thing that stopped me in my tracks was the price and the thought that Gavin might not appreciate it other than to use the pen reader as a stirrer for his pretend cooking pot and the books as pretend plates.  Had it been the Poingo reader and the Thomas book, things might have gone differently.

That said, I almost did buy the Robin I-Pen from Popular until I discovered that they had no stock in the branch at The Curve.

Has anyone ever bought one of these products?  What do you think of it? Is it worth getting or a waste of money?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “Learning to Read with Reader Pens

  1. This is something I don’t buy for my boy because they seem too costly, especially the books (limited titles too). I can read better than the reader and interact with the child while reading to him. However, if the caregiver is unable or has no time to read to the child, it may be a good alternative to instil a reading habit.

    When I was in Kindergarten and Primary School, my mum bought several story books with cassette tapes that would read the story as I flip the pages. I enjoyed them and would listen to them repeatedly. Of course, my mum took time to read other books to me when she was free. My sister didn’t seem to enjoy the cassettes, so it depends a lot on the child.


  2. Since he was little, Gavin has always loved books. We used to read together a lot before I had Gareth. Since Gareth was born, we haven’t been able to read as much because I’m either handling Gareth or we’re trying to be quiet when he’s asleep. As Gareth grows older, he’s becoming more attuned to our voices and refuses to sleep because he doesn’t want to miss out on the fun.

    I was never a good reader as a child despite all the books my parents bought. Both my parents worked so I don’t really much reading time together except when they were trying to teach me how to read – which I remember hating because I could never remember the words. My parents used the “whole words” method. But I figure I must have been learning phonics as well because I watched Sesame Street.

    I wasn’t actually considering these books as a replacement of parents reading to children. I think part of the whole parents reading to children bit is about bonding and special time together. I was considering it as a learning tool. Gavin likes to be read to, but he doesn’t want to “learn to read”. He recognises some of the words, but he’s never actually read aloud to me. I figured a talking book might help so he doesn’t feel the pressure to read to me. He can read the words he recognises and get the pen to tell him what the other words are.

    Since we don’t actually have a talking book, I don’t know if it would work. Or perhaps it’s just one of those things that works for some kids but not others. Like I said, there is a strong possibility that Gavin would end up using the pen reader as a pretend cooking spatula. For a boy who isn’t interested in eating, he’s quite obsessed with playing chef. He’s even used his jigsaw pieces into pretend food!


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