When I was in elementary school, I remember my teachers using every means conceivable to encourage all of us to read. There was quiet time, which could be spent doing our homework early or reading. D.E.A.R., or “drop everything and read,” was perhaps the most consistent method teachers used to get us to read as everyone was required to have a book out and open. Of course, the Scholastic Book Fair brought with it a treasure trove of new books to choose from – albeit only twice a year. Despite some stiff competition from the Scholastic Book Fair (which will always have a special place in my heart) the true king of all reading motivators had to be the Pizza Hut-sponsored program: BOOK IT!
“Read your heart out!”
Since 1984, BOOK IT! has offered students in kindergarten through the 6th grade a delicious incentive for reaching certain reading goals that they have set with their parents or guardians. These monthly goals are meant to fit a child’s reading abilities and can range from milestones as simple as number of minutes spent reading, to number of pages read, to number of books read. Whenever they’ve accomplished a goal, the student receives a sticker for their BOOK IT! calendar, which resembles most restaurant rewards cards except for the fact that it also doubles as a bookmark! Once they've collected enough stickers, the student also receives a Reading Award Certificate that can be redeemed at any participating Pizza Hut for a free one-topping personal pan pizza and a prize. The specific BOOK IT! program I had in the early 2000s featured Arthur, the popular character from the book and television series of the same name by Marc Brown. From my rewards bookmarks to every box of personal pepperoni pan pizza I dedicated my prepubescent life to, Arthur was there with me every page-turn of the way.
Like the Scholastic Book Fair, I’m ecstatic that BOOK IT! is still active and thriving in schools across the country. According to the official BOOK IT! website, the program “currently reaches more than 14 million students and 37,000 K-6 grade students annually.” Not only is this impressive work in terms of motivating children to read, but it explains why so many people still have a soft spot for Pizza Hut. I suddenly have the urge to binge read a book and slam an entire pepperoni pizza…