As the holiday season moves into full swing and kids are home from school, it's easy to get lost in the preparation and forget to keep children on a regular reading schedule. Unfortunately, in many states, assessment tests are right around the corner.

One of the things kids look forward to in December is the academic downtime, but there's no reason why they can't keep their minds sharp during the holidays. And, believe it or not, they can have fun while doing it. “Reading doesn't have to mean sitting at a table with a boring school book for a set amount of time each day,” says Kathy Doyle Thomas, executive vice president of the bookstore chain, Half Price Books. “You can easily 'sneak' reading into daily activities.” Here are her tips for sneaking learning into holidays at home:

  • Have your children read holiday cards when they are received in the mail, and let them write a message in outgoing cards.
  • Let children read ingredients from holiday recipes while you bake together. It's a great way for them to learn measurements and temperatures.
  • Set aside time for kids to "show off" their new reading skills to visiting relatives. Children love being the focus of attention, and grandparents are usually more than willing to see their progress.
  • Make special holiday readings a tradition. Find a special book for Hanukkah or Christmas, and have each member of the family read from it at the same time each year.
  • Even if no books make your child's wish list, make sure you give at least one as a gift, and encourage them to read it.
  • Find books that focus on an interest your child has. For example if they ask for a bike, find a book on Lance Armstrong, or a children's book that includes a bicycle adventure. There are books out there to suit every interest under the sun – it just takes a little browsing.