Hut of Darkness


Speaking of food, this is really quite stupid.

You've read the book, now eat the pizza.

Since 1985, that has been the gist of Pizza Hut's Book It, an incentive program used by schools nationwide to reward young readers with free pizzas. The program is now under attack by child-development experts who say it promotes bad eating habits and turns teachers into corporate promoters.

Book It, which reaches about 22 million children a year, "epitomizes everything that's wrong with corporate-sponsored programs in school," said Susan Linn, a Harvard psychologist and co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "In the name of education, it promotes junk-food consumption to a captive audience," Linn said.

When I was in elementary school, I participated in Book It, and it was wonderful. As a geek and a bookworm, the ability to shred through more books than almost anyone made me temporarily cool to my peers. As a fat kid, I probably would have begged my parents for a Pizza Hut trip anyway. I suppose the small, kid-sized pizza that kids get with their Book It tickets carries some uncomfortable connotations—"The first taste is free, kid. Next time, bring some money!" But it only carries these connotations if you're a busybody or, I guess, a Harvard psychologist.