Island Heights Elementary students earn pizzas by reading

On March 12, the Island Heights Teacher Association and Pizza Hut, in partnership with the literacy program BOOK IT!, sponsored a pizza lunch for the over 140 students in the Ocean County school. Students were encouraged to register for the BOOK IT! program and complete the reading challenges. “The students are just thrilled to earn their personal pan pizzas for reading,” said Kelly Torres, a teacher and proud member of IHTA. “The challenge is a lot of fun, and it really elevates the importance we place on literacy. The tangible reward of pizza is a true motivator when the students first start the challenge; but I also see the kids really beginning to enjoy reading, and by the end of the challenge, we can seriously count them as readers.”

Rutgers University mascot, the Scarlet Knight, and student-athletes have also been a part of the pizza programs, sharing with students about the role college has had in their lives. Elementary students enjoy hearing the stories the student-athletes share. Sadly, the student-athletes were not available the day of the event, but the Island Heights teachers were able to choose books from NJEA’s Read Across New Jersey guest readers program and students were able to watch videos of Rutgers student-athletes reading books. After watching the videos of Rutgers student-athletes reading, the Island Heights Teacher Association was able to provide students with bookmarks, mini notebooks, and reading crafts to encourage literacy at home as well. 

BOOK IT! is a Pizza Hut sponsored program that was created in 1984. The program is the largest and longest-running corporate supported reading program in the nation and has been responsible for creating a second generation of readers, with goals of adding more and more readers to their alumni ranks. BOOK IT! also sponsors a first book initiative in which students can register to receive their first book if they are a new reader.