National BOOK IT! Day
annually on October 1st (since 1984)
In 1984, Pizza Hut president Steven Reinemund was looking for a way to motivate his son to read. He made a deal with him: whenever he reached a reading goal, he'd take him out for pizza at Pizza Hut. The deal was successful: his son read more, spent more time with his father, and ate more pizza. Reinemund thought the incentive could be helpful for other children, which led him to come up with the idea for BOOK IT! Afterward, Pizza Hut adopted literacy as its corporate cause and created the BOOK IT! National Reading Development/Incentive Program, with guidance from an advisory council, made up of the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, National Council of Teachers of English, National Association of Elementary School Principals, and National Association of School Boards of Education.
BOOK IT! is the longest-running corporate-sponsored children's literacy program in the United States. Since 1984, it has encouraged children to read more and helped them gain a love of the activity. Originally for students in grades K–6, the program now is open to PreK students as well. It lasts for six months of the school year, and begins on October 1st, on what has been dubbed National BOOK IT! Day. Participants who achieve their goals of reading a certain amount of minutes, pages, or books in a month are given a Reading Award Certificate by their school, which they can redeem at Pizza Hut for a one-topping Personal Pan Pizza and a Passport to Reading Award. Millions of children in schools and who are homeschooled participate and have received personal pizzas. Most make their trips to Pizza Hut with their parents, just as Steven Reinemund and his son did.
National BOOK IT! Day celebrates the first day of BOOK IT! each year. Pizza Hut has acknowledged the significance of the date on more than one occasion. On the day in 2014, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of BOOK IT!, Pizza Hut launched a mobile BOOK IT! App, as well as an alumni program where past participants of BOOK IT! could receive a free Personal Pan Pizza. An exclusive story was released by Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Pizza Hut also introduced their $30,000 College Plan, where students who reached their BOOK IT! goals for the year could enter to win $30,000 towards their college education. On National BOOK IT! Day on another year, Pizza Hut gave away Kindle copies of books.
How to Observe National BOOK IT! Day
Celebrate by enrolling your children, grandchildren, or other children in your life in the upcoming year's BOOK IT! program. You could check to see if Pizza Hut is offering any other perks or hosting other activities on the day. The BOOK IT! Facebook page may be a good spot to find out if they are. You could also eat some pizza at Pizza Hut, and bring along students you know who are enrolling in BOOK IT!, to help get them excited for the year ahead!