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Pizza Hut Teams Up with Amazon to Debase Reading

Ohanian Comment: I dug out an old copy of Phi Delta Kappan and see the my views on Pizza Hut have not changed. Here's an excerpt from the article.

In keeping with the Reagan plan for cutting back on federal involvement in the schools, while at the same time encouraging private industry to get more involved, Bennett calls the Pizza Hut reading-incentive program "far-sighted." I call it morally irresponsible. If we ever hope to educate our children, to instill in them good character traits, then we must help them learn early to read and savor books for their own sake, for the information and pleasure they bring, not because someone is keeping a scorecard and handout out trophies or pizzas.

I see the use of extrinsic rewards to motivate children as cutting to the very core of the American value system. Teachers must help children find intrinsic rewards: reading for reading's sake. When you offer bribes, you debase both books and children.

Thoughtful parents are also concerned. A mother with professional experience in an obesity clinic objects to the possible health consequ3ences of encouraging young children to see food as a reward for behavior.

Another mother notes that her 10-year-old son loves to read, and he "meets his quota every month." But he comes home griping because his former best friend "spoiled the class quota" by not doing his share of reading. As this mother observed, "My son used to talk about Steven Kellogg and Sid Fleischman; now all he talks about are quotas." Meanwhile, through Pizza Hut's system of bribery and coercion, a once-popular boy is almost a pariah.

Another mother described driving 26 miles to the nearest Pizza Hut to redeem her daughter's coupon for a free pizza. "How do you explain to an 8-year-old who is proud of her coupon that offering rewards for reading violates your ethical standards?" The mother pointed out, too, that the Pizza Hut reading-incentives program hardly qualifies as philanthropy,. "After a 29-minute wait, they brought us this six-inch pizza. Of course they know that an 8-year-old can't get 26 miles to the restaurant by herself. They figure the whole family will come--and spend $50 more more pizza." She continued, "Okay, they're in business to make a profit, but what I hate most is that my daughter loves books: she would read anyway, and somehow this bribery taints her natural pleasure in books.

Experienced and savvy teachers know that when you keep a scorecard on reading, whether it's gold stars or pizzas, children start paying more attention to the scorecard than to the books. Even worse, they start lying about the number of books they've read and they read easy books so that they can read more in less time. Instead of encouraging reading, participation in such schemes ends up encouraging the development of moral monsters. People who promote such schemes have faith neither in children nor in books. They also lack faith in the abilities of teachers to bring good books and children together without gimmicks.

I want Pizza Hut and McDonald's and Ponderosa to keep their bribes out of the schools. If they care enough about getting children to read, they can donate funds to school libraries. We'll hang brass plaques in appreciation. But teachers must not become collaborators in offering bribes to children.--Susan Ohanian, "A Not-So-Tearful Farewell to William Bennett,"
Phi Delta Kappan, (v70 n1 p11-17 Sep 1988)

That was 1988. Here's Pizza Hut's new scheme as they team up with Amazon. Now, besides all the objectsions voiced above, I'll add this: By making the book prizes e-booka, Pizza Hut and Amazon great limit the audience that can take advantage of the offer. How many children receiving free and reduced lunch have access to kindles or computers delivering e-books?

Press Release

PLANO, Texas, Oct. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- It's one of the best match ups since pizza and reading got together back in 1984: Pizza Hut, the world's largest pizza company, is kicking off the 31st year of BOOK IT! with a literacy focused collaboration with Amazon.

To help Pizza Hut celebrate the launch of BOOK IT! this year, Amazon is offering two free Kindle books to parents of BOOK IT! readers -- 2015 Geisel Medal winner and ALA Notable Children's Book You Are (Not) Small, by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant, and Secrets of the Book, by middle grade language arts and history teacher Erin Fry.

In addition, Amazon has discounted hundreds of Kindle children's books from Amazon Publishing's Two Lions publishing imprint to 50% off as part of this year's BOOK IT! launch, including Arthur's New Puppy, by Marc Brown; Ralph Tells a Story, by Abby Hanlon; That's (Not) Mine, by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant; The Missing Pieces of Me, by Jean Van Leeuwen; and The Blood Guard, by Carter Roy. Parents can access the free and discounted books by visiting www.bookitprogram.com/amazon.

"We are proud to team with the BOOK IT! Program toward our shared goal of helping kids develop a love of reading," said David Blum, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Amazon Publishing's children's imprint, Two Lions, "We're excited to have our authors' fantastic stories available to kids across the country as they work toward their reading goals this school year."

Since 1984, more than 60 million students have participated in BOOK IT!, which motivates children to read more by rewarding their reading accomplishments. In 2014, for the 30th anniversary of BOOK IT!, more than 250,000 alumni joined The BOOK IT! Alumni Program, celebrating the accomplishments of past "BOOK IT! Kids." Today, BOOK IT! reaches more than 14 million students in 620,000 classrooms annually.

"We're thrilled that we've been able to play a role in increasing literacy awareness for 31 years, and we're still going strong," said Shelley Morehead, manager of the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program. "Moving from print to digital books is a natural evolution for the BOOK IT! Program and working with Amazon means BOOK IT! parents will have instant access to books to help students reach their reading goals each month; we can't wait to see what's in the next chapter for BOOK IT!"

Kids and their parents can read Kindle children's books on Amazon's Kindle e-readers or Fire tablets, on the free Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, Android and more, or on any web browser compatible with Kindle Cloud Reader.
In addition to the collaboration with Amazon, BOOK IT! offers tons of great features for teachers and families. For example, the Teacher Dashboard works in conjunction with a mobile app and a new web timer as an innovative way to track print and e-book reading goals. The app and web timer features an interactive game where students choose their favorite dragon to be their reading companion through the duration of the program. Students will earn "coins" for every minute spent reading that they can cash in for accessories for the dragons such as fun glasses, watches or scarves. The app and web timer is connected to an online teacher dashboard that can be used to track reading goals and to recognize students for making progress. To learn more about the app
and web timer, visit http://teacherdashboard.bookitprogram.com.

This year, BOOK IT! is entering into its third year partnering with bestselling author Jeff Kinney, creator of the award-winning Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. In addition to Diary of Wimpy Kid themed materials, students who are using the app will receive monthly personal motivational messages from Jeff Kinney himself.

Also in 2015, BOOK IT! will continue its tradition of challenging principals across the United States to be examples for literacy and the BOOK IT! program by choosing one day to read, all day long, from the first bell to the last during National Young Readers Week Nov. 9-13. To encourage a local school to participate, visit www.bookitprogram.com/nyrw .

Students and families can also watch a new story each day during National Young Readers Week compliments of BOOK IT! and One More Story, an online library of the best classic and contemporary children's picture books. Access the stories at pizzahut.com/bookit and check out onemorestory.com for special pricing on school subscriptions.

For additional information about the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program, visit www.bookitprogram.com.
Follow BOOK IT! on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bookitprogram), Twitter
(www.twitter.com/bookitprogram) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/bookitprogram).

About Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), delivers more pizza, pasta and wings than any other restaurant in the world. The company began 57 years ago in Wichita, Kansas, when two brothers borrowed $600 from their mom to start a pizzeria.

What started out small has become the biggest pizza company in the world and today operates more than 15,600 restaurants in more than 90 countries serving innovative pizzas, traditional favorites like the signature Pan Pizza, and much more. Pizza Hut also is the proprietor of the

BOOK IT! Program, which is a long-standing children's literacy program used in more than 630,000 classrooms nationwide. For more information, visit www.pizzahut.com. Follow Pizza Hut on Facebook (www.facebook.com/PizzaHut), Twitter (www.twitter.com/pizzahut) and Instagram

About BOOK IT!
Created in 1984, BOOK IT! currently reaches over 14 million students in 620,000 classrooms annually.

The BOOK IT! Fairy Tale Giveaway was created to celebrate the program's 30th anniversary, and participating children were eligible for a chance to win a $30,000 College Plan if they met their reading goals all six months from October to March, redeemed their Reading Award Certificates at Pizza Hut and collected all six official stickers. Nationwide, 15 million students participated in the 30th Anniversary of BOOK IT!, combining to read books for 700 million minutes in one year.

— Susan Ohanian
Pizza Hut





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