Pizza Hut’s summer ‘Book It’ program is back to inspire a new generation of young readers

Young girl reading; inset of vintage Book It pin
JGI/Tom Grill/Getty/Ebay

It’s true that millennials love a good bit of nostalgic reminiscing, especially about pop culture-related childhood staples—like the “Book It” program, for example. Not only did it motivate an entire generation to read regularly, but it brought families together by giving them a chance to share an affordable meal at a restaurant. We all remember that accomplished feeling of getting another sticker on our Book-It pin while ordering our own personal pan pizza. (I’d personally like to thank Ann M. Martin and the entirety of the “Babysitter’s Club” series for many, many, many slices of free pizza.)

Created in 1984, the Pizza Hut Book It program has encouraged reading in schools nationwide ever since. The personal mission of the program is to turn “have to read” into “want to read” for kids everywhere—and it’s worked. Within a year of launching, more than 7 million children were using the program in 233,080 classrooms all over the country. Back in 1985, the Los Angeles Times praised the program for its simplicity and effectiveness. Today, the company says that Book It! reaches more than 14 million students and 37,000 K-6 grade schools.

“Camp Book It!” is an extension of the beloved OG Book It! program—a parent-led summer reading program that runs from June through August. The process for participating in the digital summer adventure is as follows:

  • Parents can register their PreK – 6th grade (ages 4 – 12) kids in Camp BOOK IT!, running from June through August, on the Book It! site.

  • Throughout the summer, the Book It! program will send enrolled parents fun reading recommendations and activities to extend their reading adventure all summer long.

  • During those months, parents can log into their own digital dashboard to track their children’s reading progress throughout the program.

  • When their children meet the reading goal, the parent will receive a certificate by email that includes a serialized code for a free one-topping Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut. The certificate can be redeemed online, in-store or via phone.

Research shows that offering external motivation for kids to read is effective—and that’s exactly what Book-It does. But beyond the appetizing motivation, “Book It” introduces an element of gamification that appeals to young minds. Children feel a sense of accomplishment as they work towards their reading targets and redeem their well-earned pizza prize. This positive reinforcement cultivates a lasting appreciation for reading from an early age. As they take pride in their achievements, developing readers gain confidence that helps counteract any hesitation or aversion they may initially have towards books.

The program’s success stems from its ability to transform reading from an individual activity into a fully communal experience. Young readers can bond over pizza parties as they achieve literacy milestones together, which fosters an environment where reading is celebrated and even—dare I say it—”cool.”

At its core, the Book It! program represents a profound investment in the future of our children and society as a whole. By instilling a love of reading early on, it gives young minds the keys to unlock vast universes of knowledge, creativity, and imagination. I know it did for me, and for so many of my millennial counterparts as well. Being able to share in the Book It! tradition with our own children is priceless.

When a child picks up their first book for Book It, they embark on a lifelong journey of growth, curiosity, and self-discovery. That well-worn library book or dog-eared graphic novel doesn’t just earn them a tasty pizza—it opens portals to different cultures, disciplines, and dimensions of human experience. In this way, Book It isn’t merely an incentive program, but a cherished rite of passage that leaves an indelible imprint on generations of students.