Save Book It!

By Eric Naing

In today’s litigation-happy age, schools are banning playground tag and taking out soda machines from cafeterias. Now, elitist nanny-state liberals want to take away one more reckless pleasure from our youths: Pizza Hut’s Book It program. I can maybe understand banning tag and soda, but I draw the line at messing with Book It!. Kids have a right to be rewarded for doing menial tasks with nauseating, but gloriously free pizza.

Things may have changed since the Dark Ages when I was in grade school but for me, the Book It! program started with picking books from a list. After you finished reading the book, your teacher would give you a cheap star sticker which you would put on your very own cheap Book It! pin. When you collected enough stars, you got to go to the dank, joyless dungeon that was your local Pizza Hut and get a free personal pan pizza.

If this were a televised news report, I would now be showing you stock footage of overweight people (from the waist down) walking down the street. Harvard psychologist and co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Susan Lynn wants to end Pizza Hut’s Book It! program because “In the name of education, it promotes junk food consumption to a captive audience … and undermines parents by positioning family visits to Pizza Hut as an integral component of raising literate children.”

These Harvard-educated ivory tower elitists need to back off. First they take away my super sized meals at McDonalds and now they have come for Book It!. If my parents want to jeopardize my health by taking me to Pizza Hut, then they have every right to. And there are way worse things than Book It! to worry about.

Hey eggheads, have you figured out Iraq yet? I say, anything that gets kids to read is all right in my book.

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    But child development author Alfie Kohn argues that “The more kids see books as a way to get pizza or some other prize, the less interest they’ll have in reading itself.” Kohn misses the point entirely. Book It! is about more than just reading. The program is an essential part of any childhood education that teaches important life skills. Thanks to Pizza Hut, I learned vital life lessons that have been guiding me ever since my days in grade school.

    One skill I learned through Book It! that became especially useful in college was the ability to act like I read a book even though I made no effort whatsoever to actually do so.

    If you can tell your 3rd grade teacher that you read the entire Box Car Children series and get away with it, then you will one day have no problem convincing your political science professor that you really did read all of the Federalist Papers.

    Kohn also points out that with Book It!, kids “tend to choose easier books to get through faster.” Amazingly, he sees this as a negative. Thanks to Book It!, I learned that when given the choice, always pick the shortest book with the most pictures. Many happy hours of my life were saved because I chose to read “Harvey the Hiccupping Hippopotamus” instead of Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild.”

    But the most important life lesson that Book It! taught me is that everyone deserves to be rewarded for doing something that they were supposed to do anyway.

    Sure, Pizza Hut is cravenly advertising its perilously unhealthy food to grade school students in the name of promoting child literacy. And sure, in the long run, Book It! probably discourages children from reading. But come on, free pizza!

    Oh, I just thought of one more important life lesson Pizza Hut taught me.

    Thanks to Book It!, I learned that food tastes better when it is free, even when it is grease-soaked, half burnt squares of what looks like pizza.