Mark My Time BookMark, fun toys to get kids to read

Gift Guide: Toys that Motivate Kids to Read

Toys That Make Reading Fun!

I wanted to find gifts that make reading fun. My kids get assigned reading time each night for homework and, at time, the length of time required seems onerous. I think it’s more important for reading to be enjoyable than to log a certain amount of time.

But, there is the still reading log to fill out. One solution to clock reading time is this bookmark with a built-in timer.

Other ways to sneak in literacy include humorous MadLibs-like post it notes. Filling out and sticking the post-it note is so much fun that kids may not realize it requires reading and writing!

What are your tips, toys or gadgets that magically extend kids’ reading time?

p.s. My Holiday Gift Guides are all here.  Popular ones include:

Gift Guide: Best Toys for Math and Science

Gift Guide: Best Toys for Arty Kids

Gift Guide: Active Toys for Kids

Gift Guide: Best Blocks for Creative Play

Top 10: Best Fun and Educational Board Games

Gift Guide: Musical Toys for Kids


Toys that Encourage Reading and Writing

Mark My Time Bookmark, $8

It times how long you read AND keeps your place. I love the bright colors and patterns!


Mark My Time Bookmark with Reading Light, $15

This one times how long you read, is a book mark and has a built-in reading light!


Moleskin Book Light, $14

A lightweight book light that can be both a book mark and book light. It’s flat so it’s easy to pack as well. Let your child sneak a few more pages with a flashlight-worthy book but instead of holding a heavy flashlight under the cover, try this instead!

Magnetic Writing Board to Trace Alphabet, $23

Preschoolers can take this on the go to practice their letters. There are helpful arrows to guide the correct formation of each letter. Even better, the tiny magnetic balls snap into place as the stylus glides over them.

magnetic alphabet tracing board


Little Librarian, $20

Your child can turn his or her book shelf into a library with this old-fashioned card sleeve and card set that sticks into the book. Remember when librarians used to actually stamp each book card with the due date? Kids who want to pretend to be a librarian will enjoy organizing their books into a real library. I added the date stamp and fun stamp pad needed for actual book check out!


Fortamajig, $40

Build a special reading nook with this versatile fort-a-ma-jig. Comes in blue and lime green.

Word Snag, $12

This alphabet dice game is like Yatzee meets Pictionary. A player rolls the dice and then shouts out words that begin with each letter on the dice that fit in the category card you’ve drawn. For example, if you draw the category “vehicles”, you’d  take the “T” and yell out “truck”, then keep on looking for more. Ages 8 and up.

Halloween Pointers, $1-3

Sometimes all it takes is slowing down, reading each word one at a time. One way to do this is to point to each word as you say it. It’s even more fun to use fake fingers to point! If you don’t have any left over from Halloween, you can still order them.

Your Life In Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw

Turn your life into a comic that you create yourself. There’s no need for drawing skills either. The book comes with lots of fun writing prompts in a cartoon strip format.

A Really Tiny Book Light, $11

Use this teeny book light that clips to a book to read under the covers with your child or make a fort and use it as the light source. Somehow reading with a tiny book light is just more fun! Comes in fun colors too: green, turquoise, purple and gray.

Mad Libs books, $7

Mad Libs are a sneaky way to teach kids parts of speech in a way that they think is hilariously funny. Even young kids can do it if you don’t mind explaining noun (person, place or thing), verb (action word), adjective (describes a person/place/thing), or adverb (describes an action).

Mad Libs- Like Post It Notes

I like these post it notes that require check boxes to be filled out or have blank lines that beg for more details.


Games for Reading and Literacy

Pop for Sight Words Game, $10

100 sight words are printed on sturdy cardboard pieces that look like popcorn. One great idea from a reviewer is to use each word in a sentence. Even better, try to use as many words as you have drawn into a single sentence. You can bring your own ideas to change-up the game as well.

Zingo!, $22

Think like bingo but with words. We loved this game when my kids were in preschool. My kids especially liked drawing the tiles from the dispenser and the picture plus words on each tile helped to remember each word. I’d recommend for preschoolers and Kindergarteners.

Bananagrams, $15

Scrabble goes off-road with board-less Bananagrams making it more portable as well!

Sight Word Bingo, $10

Sight words are one of the components to learn in order to read independently and using a game is one way to make drilling sight words fun.

Leapster Reading Tag Program, $40

We didn’t have much luck with electronic reading devices, but I like the portability of the electronic pen that makes Leapster books “talk.”


Board Books that Make Sounds

My kids liked any book, no matter how loud,  with a button to push, rewarding them with a sound.

Graphic Novels

I have post on graphic novels here and am a believer that graphic novels are a legitimate and enjoyable genre for getting kids excited to read. If your child won’t get excited to receive a book as a gift, try a graphic novel instead.

While many graphic novels seem geared towards boys, the books by Raina Telgemeier have been especially popular with all the girls I know who read them (Smile and her latest, Drama).

The Warriors graphic novels about feral cats are safe bets that appeal to both girls and boys.

Max Finder series uses the illustrations as part of the clues you’ll need to solve mysteries. Because each mystery is 5-6 pages long, it makes a great graphic novel for bedtime stories. Though it’s geared for middle school, my son enjoyed it in first grade and we actually struggled to solve all the mysteries. They’re hard!!

 To view any item more closely at Amazon, please click on image of item.

Follow PragmaticMom’s board Best Graphic Novels on Pinterest.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I’m so excited about the post-it notes and the reading light bookmarks! This is a great list.
    Craftwhack recently posted…The Wretch Who Didn’t Steal AnythingMy Profile

    • To Craftwhack,
      I need to buy the reading light book marks myself. I gave one as part of a birthday present and the mom and child were delighted. My kids would love them too! And my kids are so into office supplies…glad you like the post-its too!

  2. awesome ideas, thanks. Whatever I can do to make reading fun . . .
    Melissa recently posted…Soup Scoop – Best Links of the WeekMy Profile

    • To Melissa,
      Thanks so much! When reading is fun for our kids, I feel like we all win! It was fun to research products that kids will use and enjoy to stretch out their reading time. Glad you liked them!

  3. Ann

    What a GREAT list idea!!!

    The scary finger is brilliant! I love comic books for reluctant readers – and so many great choices these days. We have and love the Tag reader too.

    • To Ann,
      The scary finger is so funny,isn’t it? I found this idea online a year ago and thought the same thing myself … brilliant reuse of Halloween props! The comic book has been my go to gift for boys and so far they have all liked it. I got one for my son this part Christmas but I have to check to see if he actually used it yet. It might be buried in his room.

  4. Thanks for the reminder on MadLibs. I think my 1st grader will enjoy it. I used to do them all the time as a kid. After a while my friends and I would make up our own MadLibs stories.
    Darshana recently posted…Good News Bad NewsMy Profile

  5. This is an awesome tool. I can see how good it would be for summer library clubs, too. Such a good list of books and toys for mawmaws, too.
    Pamela recently posted…Sharing the Shelter Linkup and GiveawayMy Profile

  6. What a great list! I love the bookmarks. : ) You have such a great blog, Mia.
    Bethany recently posted…Author/Illustrator Spotlight: Kathy AllertMy Profile

  7. Love all the ideas! I maybe purchasing some of these for b-days coming up. Pinning now! thx
    mari recently posted…DIY Paper Bag LanternsMy Profile

  8. My family LOVES Mark My Time bookmarks. My kids have the opposite problem of some when it comes to logging hours read. The logging slows them down and makes them read less. Or, they forget to log it and the teachers think they haven’t read as much as they have. These book marks are the perfect solution. We talked to their teachers and simply give the monthly total. All they do is start the timer when they begin and stop it when they’re done reading for the day. It continues to add the minutes until they reset it.
    Michelle Cusolito recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Old Man’s Beard (Lichen)My Profile

  9. Hey Mia-
    I’m interested in purchasing books for @ReadingPartnersnyc at P.S.33. You seem to have just the books I need in “The Best Graphic Novels!” Thanks

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