School might be out, but the start of summer brings big news from the BOOK IT! Program! Now in its 30th year, the BOOK IT! team has been busy celebrating their anniversary by rewarding people left and right for their reading accomplishments. From announcing the winner of the BOOK IT! Fairy Tale Giveaway to recognizing the Restaurant General Manager (RGM) who truly makes reading a special experience, the BOOK IT! program has a lot to cheer for. Meet this year’s BOOK IT! Connect with Effect Champion, Kristy Monahan Smith and more!
Madison Kindergartener Wins $30,000 College Plan
Courtney Abbott, a Madison, Wisconsin-area kindergarten student, was rewarded for her commitment to reading with a $30,000 education fund from the BOOK IT! program. A student at Glenn Stephens Elementary School, Courtney reached her goal of reading 20 books a month between October and March (120 books total!). Students had to meet the reading goal set by the teacher all six months of the program and collect all six official stickers in the Passport to Reading Award from the local Pizza Hut to be eligible for the Fairy Tale Giveaway. After submitting her Passport to Reading Award and stickers at the end of the program year, Courtney was randomly selected as the winner of the BOOK IT! Fairy Tale Giveaway, hosted this year in honor of the program’s 30th Anniversary.
With the help of Pizza Hut of Southern Wisconsin, BOOK IT! celebrated Courtney’s achievement with a pizza party for all the students at Glenn Stephens Elementary school at the beginning of June, and Courtney and her family were presented with the check at the celebration.
Meet Kristy Monahan Smith, Connect with Effect Champion
The Connect with Effect: BOOK IT! Champion celebrates the Pizza Hut Restaurant General Manager (RGM) who consistently goes above and beyond in their commitment to the BOOK IT! Program. This individual is a role model in his or her restaurant and community for actively recognizing students for meeting reading goals, partnering with schools to support reading and other school-related initiatives. This RGM is someone who we believe sets the standard for celebrating reading with flavorful moments at Pizza Hut!
This year, we’re pleased to award the Connect with Effect honor to Kristy Monahan Smith in Carrollton, Missouri. Kristy and her team at the Carrollton Pizza Hut bring the BOOK IT! Program to life in their restaurant and community with fun events, recognition for teachers, and themed-displays of readers’ accomplishments. As Debbie Gentry, Kristy’s Area Manager, puts it, “Kristy and her team have a personal connection with their young readers and their families by way of the BOOK IT! Program.”
Kristy’s creativity in recognizing young BOOK IT! readers is one of the reasons why the program is so successful in Carrollton. Kristy and her team started the year off with a “Walk of Fame” night for young readers, taking photos of program participants to go with handprints and stars displayed with their names on it. Her creativity extended into a BOOK IT! birthday party for alumni, a Christmas themed BOOK IT! display with a fireplace that included a Christmas tree—made entirely out of books—next to it. During the month of January, the restaurant had a snowman reading a book and “snuggle up and read” pajama party, complete with hot chocolate and popcorn. Some of the monthly displays were interactive, challenging readers and their families to enter contests for prizes.
According to Debbie Gentry, the restaurant has a close relationship with the local school system, and is a major advocate for the importance of reading. Kristy and her team make it a point to recognize those teachers that have supported the BOOK IT! Program throughout the past 30 years by giving them each their own Personal Pan Pizza. Additionally, Pizza Hut pairs annually with a first grade class at the local elementary school in Carrollton; Kristy visits the class and reads books to the kids. She has become a celebrity to these first graders, as they will point Kristy out to their parents when they see her at the restaurant.
It’s for these reasons, and countless more, that Kristy is the perfect winner for this year’s Connect with Effect BOOK IT! Award. Congratulations, Kristy!
Second Annual Yearbook Awards
Speaking of awards, we are also pleased to share with you the winners of the second ever BOOK IT! Yearbook contest! As part of the BOOK IT! experience, each restaurant received a yearbook at the beginning of the program year in which to collect signatures from kids participating in BOOK IT! as well as fill out Meet the Team pages, add pictures, book titles, and generally commemorate the annual successes of the students.
The contest rewards the ten Restaurant General Managers who send in the best yearbooks with a $250 check payable to the winner, and a $200 check payable to a BOOK IT! Program participating school selected by the winner. This year, we received over 50 yearbooks, which were judged for their presentation, creativity and originality. The results were quite impressive: Pizza Hut fans and BOOK IT! alumni wrote their memories of the program from when they were BOOK IT! kids, and one winning yearbook even came with a recording of the restaurant team singing “Happy Birthday” (in honor of BOOK IT!’s 30th anniversary).
All ten of these RGMs went above and beyond to make BOOK IT! come to life at the restaurant and their yearbooks showcase that. Check out some of our favorites: