BOOK IT! with Pizza Hut, the program promoting enthusiasm for reading, has announced that for the second year they are teaming up with Tom Angleberger, author of Origami Yoda, as their official author partner.
“Imagine how a kid feels when they find out that they’re going to get free pizza just for reading books,” Angleberger wrote in an email, describing his excitement when first approached to partner with BOOK IT! last year. “This felt like that times a thousand!”
The author partner program is an extension of BOOK IT!’s goal of getting kids excited about reading. It began with Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and has developed naturally from there to use the popularity of certain books to bolster BOOK IT!’s literacy efforts.
“When we were working with Jeff Kinney’s team on what the initial partnership could look like, we knew we wanted to feature books kids would be excited about and that have been widely popular among students,” wrote BOOK IT’s Associate Manager of Public Relations/Social Impact Joe Unger.
This effort has lead to partnerships that saw BOOK IT! with Pizza Hut materials featuring popular characters from books for young readers. Since beginning their author partnerships in an official capacity, BOOK IT! has worked with Kinney, Angleberger, and The Tale of Despereaux author Katie DiCamillo.
The program began featuring characters from popular series in 2012 with Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Other books featured included DiCamillo’s Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures and Tales from Deckawoo Drive, as well as Angleberger’s Origami Yoda.
Unger wrote, “Once we partnered with Jeff, we were able to begin featuring [Wimpy Kid] characters and art on materials such as teacher packets, which was really compelling.”
Angleberger added to the enthusiasm:
“At first, it’s exciting because so many kids are going to be seeing Origami Yoda,” he wrote. “But then, there’s the bigger picture: Origami Yoda – this piece of paper I folded – is going to promote not just my books, but all books.”
BOOK IT! with Pizza Hut is a program designed to encourage kids to develop early and lifelong devotions to reading. Teachers can enroll in the program’s paper or digital components, in which students set reading goals and are rewarded with a certificate that grants them a free personal pizza at Pizza Hut restaurants.
The program has evolved over its lifetime to include commitments to broadening literacy, bolstering diversity in books, and assisting school districts that face financial hurdles.
Unger says the ability to include familiar characters has been a boon to the program’s effectiveness.
“At the end of the day, our overarching goal with the partnership program is to inspire students to read,” Unger wrote. “We know we can help achieve that by featuring great titles from popular authors, so we will continue.”
Enrollment in BOOK IT! for the 2021–2022 school year will be open by the week of March 16th. Angleberger’s second year as author partner will hopefully allow both the author and the program to build upon the successes of their first year, the author wrote.
Addressing the goals of the program, as well as the challenge some kids face when trying to connect with the right book, Angleberger brought it back to pizza.
“[Reading is] kind of like pizza toppings,” the author wrote. “Maybe you tried a slice with banana peppers and onions and didn’t like it. That doesn’t mean you give up on pizza!”
“I hope that by partnering with BOOK IT! again this year I can help reach even more kids participating in the program and encourage them to find and read books they love.”