The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood writes:
As part of our ongoing effort to counter commercialism in schools, CCFC is encouraging parents and educators to stop schools from using Pizza Hut BOOK IT! programs. BOOK IT! is one of corporate America’s most insidious school-based brand promotions. It reaches 22 million school children in 900,000 classrooms each year. Through the BOOK IT! Beginners program (which runs this year from March 5- April 27), Pizza Hut is even able to target preschools.
Students enrolled in BOOK IT! are rewarded with a certificate for a free Pizza Hut personal pizza. Yet there is no evidence that the program actually promotes literacy – it has never been formally evaluated. And there are plenty of reasons for concern:
- In the midst of an epidemic of childhood obesity, BOOK IT! promotes Pizza Hut pizza as an integral part of required school curriculum for millions of young children. Pizza Hut’s personal pizzas contain as many as 770 calories and 39 grams of fat.
- BOOK IT! inserts a commercial brand into daily classroom routines, continually promoting Pizza Hut to a captive audience of students.
- BOOK IT! bypasses parents by targeting children directly in schools and promotes family conflict if parents don’t want to bring children to Pizza Hut to claim their reward.
- BOOK IT! presents earning a reward as the goal of reading rather than its inherent pleasures – and may actually negatively affect children’s interest in books.
“Any one of these issues is a serious concern,” said CCFC’s co-founder Susan Linn. “Taken all together, it’s clear that Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT! has no place in schools.”
To find out if your elementary school participates in the BOOK IT! program, please visit http://www.bookitprogram.com/participants/. To find if your child’s preschool participates in BOOK IT! Beginners, please visit http://www.bookitprogram.com/participants/beginner.asp.
If your school is enrolled in one of these programs, we encourage you to download our Pizza Hut BOOK IT! fact sheet and share it with your school’s administrators, your PTA, and other parents. Let us know if you start working to stop BOOK IT! (firstname.lastname@example.org). We may be able to put you in touch with other CCFC members in your area and we’d like to hear how it’s going.
Working together, we can reclaim our schools from corporate marketers.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
For more on CCFC’s concerns about BOOK IT, please visit www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/pizzahutbookit.htm