One easy way parents and carers can nurture their child’s education and cognitive development is to encourage reading at home, but that can be a challenge given the presence of screens in our lives.

Jacqui Smith, Australian Christian College National Literacy Coordinator, provides 10 sure-fire tips on how to help kids get into reading – and it’s not just about books.

Reading with kids is also a lovely way to create quality time together.

  1. Minimise distractions – Go somewhere quiet, distraction-free and comfortable. You can then position the book so your child is able to clearly see its pages.

2. Choose good books – Teach your child how to choose adequate books at the local library. This is often a skill adults tend to take for granted – use this as an opportunity to teach yourself, too!

3. Allow your child to hold the book – Let your child engage with the book and the story by allowing them to hold it and/or turn the pages.

4. Engage with your child – Point to the pictures or illustrations in the book to connect the words with the images.

5.  Make plot predictions – Encourage your child to make plot predictions by asking: “What do you think will happen next?” at key transition points in the narrative.

6. Pause – Don’t forget to pause occasionally and ask your child to summarise the events that have happened so far.

7. Understand tricky words – Look up the meaning of difficult words with your child as you come across them. This can help with their development and understanding of the story as well as learning new words.

8. Book swaps – Arrange book swaps with your family or friends to widen your choice of books. This could perhaps form part of a book club. Look out for Lifeline Book Fairs in your area – they vet the books in advance to ensure they are of good quality, and they are a fraction of the price.

9. Practical reading – Engage your child in the reading of traffic signs, food packaging, clothing labels, mail, menus, instructions and much more – anything you may come across in daily life!

10. Books as a reward – Give your child a book as a reward so they can associate books with positive experiences.

EXTRA TIP: model reading! You might not be a bookworm, but reading a magazine, newspaper or Kindle, or listening to podcasts or audiobooks, are also good ways to model a love of the written (and spoken) word.