By Natasha Collins, Program Administrator of BOOK IT!
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you benefitted from being exposed to reading at a very young age. It became part of your skillset, one that you continue to use today.
Unfortunately, many children today are not given the gift of a great book—or any book, for that matter. That lack of opportunity can have an impact on their ability to reach their full potential.
Consider this: students who cannot read to their grade level standards by the third grade are four times less likely to graduate than children who can read proficiently by that time. Alternatively, children who read on their own or are read to everyday by this age can be developmentally a full year ahead of those who do not read as frequently. In fact, reading just 20 minutes per day exposes a child to 1.8 million words a year. The commitment is small, but the rewards last a lifetime.
This is one of the big reasons why, in 1984, Pizza Hut founded the BOOK IT! Program, the longest-running corporate-supported literacy program in the country. And, to help further this mission, the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program is donating $1,500 in books to Vogel Alcove, which provides comprehensive early childhood education for homeless children in Dallas. Vogel Alcove offers free childcare and case management for children and their families residing at 18 local emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters and housing programs all over the city, serving 140 homeless children daily. With the goal of providing a foundation for success to the children of homeless families, we are thrilled to contribute to this important program.
For the past 31 years, the BOOK IT! Program has been working with hundreds of thousands of teachers across the country to foster a love for reading. In 2015 alone, more than 14 million young people will participate in the BOOK IT! Program. The program is simple, which is why kids, teachers, and so many families love it. It provides the tools, encouragement and simple goals to help kids develop as readers.
This winter, when giving is abundant, I hope you also will consider one of the simplest gifts of all – a love of reading. On behalf of the entire Pizza Hut family, and the millions of young people who consider themselves “BOOK IT! kids,” I look forward to continuing our commitment to fostering a love of reading.