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It is estimated that over 14 million children have been encouraged to read more by taking part in the Book It program that was established by Pizza Hut more than 30 years ago! Now, National Young Readers Week continues as an additional opportunity for schools, teachers, parents and other influencers of young people to help them engage with reading. 

History of National Young Readers Week

National Young Readers Week has roots that can be traced back to the mid-1980s. Many people don’t realize that this reading program actually began with the family restaurant chain, Pizza Hut. In response to when US President Ronald Reagan, along with his wife First Lady Nancy Reagan, encouraged different businesses to get involved with education, Pizza Hut launched its reading program called “Book It”.

The “Book It” program, started in 1985, involved children getting connected with reading throughout several months, from October through March. After reading a certain number of books, kids could earn an award certificate along with a free personal sized pizza. By 1989, this reading program was part of establishing the week-long focus on reading that takes place in November, called National Young Readers Week.

How to Celebrate National Young Readers Week

Looking for ideas on how to get involved with and celebrate National Young Readers Week? Check out some of these ideas to get started with:

Get Reading!

Although it is called National Young Readers Week, and the idea is to encourage youth to read instead of watching television or playing video games, that doesn’t mean there is an age limit on participation. In fact, anyone of any age can benefit from reading a book, ranging from a parent reading to an infant or toddler, to an aged person listening to books on tape – and everyone in between. Whether it’s a book of poems, a novel, a biography or a non-fiction technical book, there are tons of things to learn about the world through reading a book.

Read with a Young Person

Teachers, parents, youth workers, scout troop leaders and so many others who have influence on young people can get involved with National Young Readers Week! The best way is to offer to read with them or to them. Letting a group of young readers take turns reading out loud is a good way to encourage participation. Or letting them choose the book and having the adult read to them while they close their eyes, relax and have a little bit of down time from the world.

Head Out to the Library

Readers need books and one of the best places to find thousands of them is at the local public library! The library is an amazing space that offers quiet and calm for individuals and families who want to spend time either perusing the stacks or reading at a table. Those who don’t already have a library card might take National Young Readers Week as an opportunity to get a library card or membership.

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