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Pizza Hut Continues Free Pizza Tradition with Book It Program Alumni

If you grew up in the 1980s, and you were an avid reader like I was, there’s a good chance you remember Pizza Hut’s Book It Program. How else did ten year olds convince their parents that going out for pizza as frequently as humanly possible was a good idea? This year is the 30th anniversary of the Book It Program, and in celebration, Pizza Hut is reaching out to their alumni from all over the world. In exchange for a few pieces of information – in survey form of course – they will give you a reminder of your youth: a free personal pan pizza.

For you youngsters out there on the internet, Pizza Hut’s Book It Program was launched in 1984 as an answer to then-President Reagan’s call for a reinvestment in education by corporate America. A former Pizza Hut executive had a child who struggled with reading himself, and he wanted to help. The plan he came up with to make a difference to other kids like his own included a poster, a lot of stickers, even more books, and certificates for personal pan pizzas in exchange for completed books. The number of books I read in exchange for stickers on various posters as a kid was impressive, but the Pizza Hut chart was possibly my favorite. Here’s a little more on the history of the program:

Every time I got to slide into that vinyl booth with my siblings and choose my own toppings for my free personal pizza was awesome. Seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve burned your finger tips on the pan of a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. Also, try and remember this program without having a vivid olfactory memory of the scent of a Pizza Hut franchise. Seriously, Subway tries to do that thing with store smells, but Pizza Hut succeeded. I’m seriously considering working up a poster of my own, filling it with stickers, and only going to get my alumni-status pizza when it’s filled.

What was your favorite book as a kid? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. Darla M McCarter says:

    “Where The Sidewalk Ends ” By Shel Silverstein

  2. Darla M McCarter says:

    Any and All books written by Judy Blume

  3. Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Little Women, the Alice books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Baby Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Peter Pan, Boxcar Children, choose your own adventure… I loved books so much I’d read almost anything

  5. Brian says:

    They did this in the early to mid 90’s s well

  6. Dawn Pennell says:

    The Great Gilly Hopkins and of course, Sweet Valley High. 

  7. xgod242 says:

    It is truly sad how Pizza Hut has decided having a low, low price is more important than having some form of food quality. 

    The “Pan” pizza they sell now is the same thickness of the original Hand Tossed crust. Only it is chewy and tough like a leather shoe.
    I recently gave them a try and had one of the worst pizzas in the history of my dining experience. 

    I remember the Personal Pan pizza with the Book-It program and how we kids would cheat the program by checking out dozens of books from the library and claim we read them, list them on the form to meet the minimum to get a free pizza, and then return the books unread the next day.
    The original PAN Pizza from Pizza Hut had a crust more than 1.5″ thick. The Personal Pan was only slightly less thick. The current “Pan” Pizza Hut pie is less than 3/4 inch thick and dry, flavorless, tough and chewy in a bad way, and they only give you 6 slices of pepperoni for the 8 slices of pizza.
    It’s pathetic and tragic on an epic scale. 

    I grew up dining on Pizza Hut. Their pizza was the standard I judged all other pizzas by (except my mom’s 2.5″ thick pizza crust with a full 1″ layer of cheese and toppings).
    What the company sells now is horrible and inedible. I have no idea why or how people still shop there. I would be willing to pay an additional $3-$5 for the original PAN pizza to return, but they don’t seem to think that would be worth the investment of restoring the original recipe.

    • Elisabeth says:

      Seriously, shut up. Could you be more of a downer?

    • YourMom says:

      Wow they should fucking charge you for all those free pizzas you got you little dickhead. I read all the books for my pizzas since I guess I wasn’t an idiot child that couldn’t. 

  8. The book I remember reading was Handful of time by Kit Pearson. I won the book for winning a poetry contest when I was only 5 years old. 

  9. The Island Keeper by Harry Mazer, Higher Than the Arrow by Moneta Barnett and Judy Van der Veer, and Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson are three that really stuck with me from my tween years. Oh and of course Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, Watership Down by Richard Adams, my two favorite Ray Bradbury short stories “All Summer in a Day” and “The Veldt.”

  10. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

    • Rachael Berkey says:

      I’m ashamed to admit I only ever saw the movie, but I heard the book is incredible. 🙂

  11. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Christy, Laura Ingall’s books, Dragonlance chronicles, Ramona Quimby books, any and all RL Stine, Babysitters Club, Boxcar Children, all the Narnia books, Nancy Drew mysteries, Hobbit, LOTR trilogy…so many, many, many more!

    I have been reading since I was 4 and I still have all my Book It certificates. My favorite show growing up was Reading Rainbow…I <3 books!

  12. Favorite book was “There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom” by Louis Sachar. Still have a copy on my shelf and I’m 35!

  13. Jenni says:


    • Rachael Berkey says:

      That was on my summer reading list this year! I did not even get to start it. I really want to read it though!

  14. Robyn says:

    Searching for Shona and Howl’s Moving Castle were the two most memorable books from my childhood. I must have read them dozens of times. 

  15. The Little Prince was my favorite book. Read it a few times again as an adult and it still holds up.

  16. Dan Luedke says:

    I was in 4th grade when the program launched and proud to say I was one of the first kids in America to get a free pizza from it. I only promised to read one book that month. I read Moby Dick and that choice had to be approved by Book It, and they requested a book report to prove that I read it and understood it. My whole class actually got a pizza party out of it because everyone met their goals and I did more than they had expected.

    Such a great program.