Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program Teams Up With Award-Winning Author Kate DiCamillo To Inspire Young Readers

Commitment to improving lives through literacy and reading continues for the pizza restaurant company; partnership marks the start of enrollment for 2016-2017 BOOK IT! year

Mar 08, 2016, 08:00 ET from Pizza Hut

PLANO, Texas, March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program, known for instilling a love of reading in more than 14 million students across the U.S. each year, has announced today a new literary partner beginning in the 2016-17 school year – two-time Newbery Medal Award-winning author Kate DiCamillo. Today's announcement also marks the start of enrollment for BOOK IT! in the 2016-17 school year.

DiCamillo's award-winning book, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, illustrated by K.G. Campbell, will be incorporated into all BOOK IT! classroom materials, teacher printables and web creative at www.BOOKITprogram.com.  Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal, Flora and Ulysses is an adventure novel starring 10-year-old Flora Belle and her superhero squirrel Ulysses. The book is celebrated in teacher circles for helping students explore interpersonal relationships, expand their vocabulary, create superhero-themed artwork and begin learning about poetry and philosophy.

"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty, but rather as a gift," said DiCamillo. "The Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program perfectly aligns with this philosophy by emphasizing the fun of opening a new book and celebrating the satisfaction that comes from reading another story. Millions of adults have fond memories of being a BOOK IT! kid, and I'm honored to work with Pizza Hut to share my own love of reading with the next generation of BOOK IT! students."

DiCamillo uses her platform as a world-renowned writer to encourage children to find the joy in reading. Starting in 2014 she served for two years as the Library of Congress's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. This summer, she will also serve as the 2016 National Summer Reading Champion, and will be traveling to promote her new novel, Raymie Nightingale, to be published on April 12.

"Kate embodies the same passion for reading that is palpable across every level of BOOK IT!, from the students and teachers in the classroom to Pizza Hut leadership to the restaurant team members who get to help children celebrate their reading achievement," said Natasha Collins, Manager, Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program. "To add an award-winning author of Kate's caliber is not only a testament to the esteemed status of the BOOK IT! program but also to Kate's true commitment to instilling a love of reading in young people."

For the past four years, BOOK IT! has partnered with Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series, to encourage a passion for reading in a fun and relevant way.

"Millions of children grew up with BOOK IT! and Greg Heffley together and were inspired by his diary to reach their reading goals," said Collins. "We appreciate Jeff as our inaugural literary partner and his unflagging support for promoting childhood literacy. As we pass the torch from Jeff to Kate, we look forward to continuing the mission that Jeff helped us to start – encouraging kids across America to read their hearts out."

BOOK IT! is simple, flexible, fun and free to use in the classroom. Running every school year from October 1 through March 31, the goal of the program – available for children from kindergarten through sixth grade – is to foster a love of reading. Students who meet monthly reading goals set by their teacher receive a Reading Award Certificate to redeem at participating Pizza Hut locations for a one-topping Personal Pan Pizza and a Passport to Reading Award.

For more information, visit www.BOOKITprogram.com.

About BOOK IT!
Created in 1984 by Pizza Hut, BOOK IT! currently reaches over 14 million students in 620,000 classrooms annually. The longest-running, corporate-supported reading program in the country has engaged educators for more than three decades. Since its inception, more than 62 million students have participated in the program.

For additional information about the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program, visit www.BOOKITprogram.com. Follow BOOK IT! on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BOOKITprogram), Twitter (www.twitter.com/BOOKITprogram) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/BOOKITprogram).

About Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), delivers more pizza, pasta and wings than any other restaurant in the world. The company began 58 years ago in Wichita, Kansas, when two brothers borrowed $600 from their mom to start a pizzeria.

What started out small has become the biggest pizza company in the world and today operates more than 15,600 restaurants in more than 97 countries serving innovative pizzas, traditional favorites like the signature Pan Pizza, and much more. Pizza Hut also is the proprietor of the BOOK IT!® Program, which is a long-standing children's literacy program used in more than 620,000 classrooms nationwide. For more information, visit www.pizzahut.com. Follow Pizza Hut on Facebook (www.facebook.com/PizzaHut), Twitter (www.twitter.com/pizzahut) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/pizzahut).

About Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo is one of America's most beloved storytellers. She is the former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and a two-time Newbery Medalist. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week. More information about her work is available at http://www.katedicamillostoriesconnectus.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/KateDiCamillo/

*For all media inquiries, please contact:

Pizza Hut:
Courtney Moscovic, 972-338-8288, Courtney.moscovic@yum.com          

Candlewick Press:
Tracy Miracle, 617-588-4404, tracy.miracle@candlewick.com

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