A couple of weeks ago, Pizza Hut announced the ten winning classrooms of its Book It! program, which encourages schools to set reading goals for students and rewards winning classrooms in the “All-Star Reader” sweepstakes with great prizes.

Prizes included two $500 airline gift cards for each classroom teacher. one $100 Barnes and Nobles gift card for classroom use and a selection of Book It! incentive items. 

Another prize is $15 Pizza Hut gift card for each student in the classroom.  Critics claim that this prize encourages children to eat pizza and get fat.

The article said:  One of them is the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, whose cofounder, psychologist Susan Linn, said this to the Associated Press:  “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.”

Alex Molnar, director of the Commercialism in Education Research Unit at Arizona State University, told the Associated Press that Book It! was a “dreadful program” because it pressures parents into celebrating with their kids at Pizza Hut.

The article said that author Alife Kohn, who wrote “Punished by Rewards,” said that program gets kids interested in reading only as a way to win a free pizza.

The article says:  The critics make it sound as if the winign students never have eaten pizza or junk food before and that their first trip to Pizza Hut will result in childhood obesity.

Pizza Hut says more than 22 million students enroll in the program every year.  Not all of them meet the reading goals the teachers set, but if they only finish a third of the books they’re still more literate than when they started out.

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