Book It! was the name of an advertising campaign created by Pizza Hut in 1984 to encourage elementary-school-age kids to read more. The program involved teachers awarding students who read certain books with a Pizza Hut certificate that could be redeemed at any of the chain’s restaurants. The program encouraged teachers and parents alike to get involved in helping kids to read, and it was one of the more memorable academic programs of the 1980s.
If you grew up in the 80s, chances are you became a bookworm to score some free Pizza Hut pizza. Parents and teachers loved it because it got kids to read, and Pizza Hut loved it because it promoted their brand.
Pizza Hut Book It!
The Pizza Hut Book It! program was pretty straight forward. Kids would read a certain amount of books, and once they finished the required reading, they earned a free pizza. Typically these were the individual personal pan pizzas which were the perfect size for kids.
But why was the Pizza Hut Book It! program such a popular program in the 1980s?
1. Kids Loved Pizza
The free pizza incentives helped to motivate children to read more. Many children love pizza, so a pizza reward for reading was perfect for them.
The Book It program also coincided with a time when video games were taking off. Kids would come home from school, do their homework, and then play games on TV or go outside to play with friends. But if they wanted to earn some free pizza, they had to spend more time reading instead of playing.
2. BOOK IT! Popped Up On TV
The Book It program first started appearing on TV in 1988. That year, a few commercials appeared during Saturday morning cartoons. This made it easy for kids to learn what they could get if they read more books. Here’s an example of one of the many commercials Pizza Hut ran for their Book It! program in the 80s:
A lot of parents probably didn’t even realize that their children were learning about the Book It! program while watching their favorite cartoons. Parents who had never heard of the program before might have found out about it through their child’s excitement to receive a pizza reward.
3. Some Cities Made It Official
In 1988, Bill Clinton signed an executive order to make the Book It! program officially available to schools across Arkansas. Other cities soon followed suit, and by the early 1990s, schools in most states were participating in the program. Reading became cool again, and book sales increased too. As a result, publishers provided resources to teachers to help encourage more kids to read more books each day.
Is Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Still Popular?
While the program is still around, it isn’t as popular as it was in the 80s and 90s. Even if you ask your friends about their thoughts on the program, most may be unaware of its existence. With all the technology available, kids today might not need a program like this to get them reading. However according to research, many people have positive memories of the program and would recommend it for elementary school-aged children.
The Book It! program is a great way to encourage kids to read in the 1980s. The benefits of this program are clear; from improving reading comprehension to fostering a love for reading and developing social skills, children who participate in the Book It! program reaps many rewards. While some may argue that there are better ways to promote literacy than through an organized campaign like this one, there is no denying the positive impact the program has had on generations of young readers.