ABA Announces Prescription for Reading Partnership with Pizza Hut® BOOK IT!®

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The American Booksellers Association has announced a new partnership with the Pizza Hut® BOOK IT! ® Program and Chronicle Books in support of ABA's 2002 Prescription for Reading program. Prescription for Reading pairs independent booksellers with healthcare providers in an effort to remind parents and caregivers about the importance of reading to very young children.

The 2002 Prescription for Reading marketing program is being expanded with the additional sponsorship of the BOOK IT! Program, created by Pizza Hut. Because of the BOOK IT! sponsorship the number of free books will increase by 50 percent. This year 150,000 copies of a special edition of Sylvia Long's Mother Goose will be distributed via bookstores. In addition to the book, children and their parents will receive a special coupon at the bookstore towards the purchase of a large pizza with up to three toppings for $9.99 (an estimated value of up to $15) to be enjoyed by the whole family.

Eunice Ellis, director of the BOOK IT! Program, stated, "We are delighted to join the ABA's Prescription for Reading program and to work with independent business people in their communities. Like independent booksellers, our franchise owners have a deep interest in their local schools and communities, so it is a natural partnership along with the local health providers. Pizza Hut is proud of its long-term commitment to youth literacy."

BOOK IT! is the nation's largest reading incentive program. In 17 years, it has reached 277 million children. In 1998, Pizza Hut started BOOK IT! Beginners®, a read-aloud program for preschool children, which is now being used in 30,000 preschool facilities. The company has been seeking ways to extend its literacy commitment to even younger children, beginning with newborns, and realized that partnering with the ABA's Prescription for Reading program would help to accomplish this.

Chronicle Books is the publisher-sponsor for the 2002 Prescription for Reading program. A special edition of its acclaimed book Sylvia Long's Mother Goose will be distributed through participating bookstores. Victoria Rock, an associate publisher of Chronicle Books said, "We are very excited about working with independent booksellers and Pizza Hut's BOOK IT! Program. It's a reminder that the business of children's books is so much more than simply a business. It's also about instilling in children a lifelong love of books and reading. This wonderful program and Sylvia Long's magical work are the perfect pairing."

Sylvia Long added, "Independent booksellers have been tremendously supportive of my work throughout my career as a children's book illustrator. It is my privilege to be involved in their Prescription for Reading program, which is an example of one of the innovative approaches independent booksellers are taking to accomplish the extremely important goal of getting books into the hands of young children. I can't imagine anything more satisfying than being a part of that effort."

All ABA bookstores are eligible to participate in the Prescription for Reading program. There is a $50 program fee that will provide each bookstore with two promotional kits and 200 books, which will be distributed by Baker & Taylor. The kits contain promotional materials to be used with local healthcare providers to encourage wide distribution of the Prescription for Reading coupons to parents and caregivers. Prescription for Reading is part of the larger Book Sense marketing program, but is open to all storefront bookstore members of ABA. This marketing program not only enhances community literacy programs, but also attracts consumers to independent bookstores. A survey among the participating bookstore participants from the 2001 program indicates that about half of the consumers visiting bookstores for the free children's book were first-time visitors. In addition, a third of the booksellers reported incremental sales as a result of the visit for the Prescription for Reading book.

"Prescription for Reading allows us to focus on a market that we might have otherwise missed. The momentum of this program is growing, and each year we find the connections are easier to make," said Valerie Lewis, owner of Hicklebee's in San Jose, California. "We also donate books to our local chapter of Reach Out and Read. The coordinator told me that the children are so happy to be read to while waiting to see the doctor that she wishes she could take a picture of each child's face. Prescription for Reading is a fabulous program. I'm thrilled that other businesses, like Pizza Hut's BOOK IT! Program, are lending their support. The more the 'reading' word gets out to new parents, the more we'll all benefit."

Neal Coonerty, ABA president and owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, California, said, "ABA is delighted to work with Chronicle Books, Pizza Hut's BOOK IT! Program and -- our distributor for the program -- Baker & Taylor. It is our desire to make more people aware of the benefits of reading to children and our hope that they will discover the wonders of an independent bookstore in the process."

Click here to download an order form for the Prescription for Reading kit (pdf format). For more information, contact Jill Perlstein, ABA's director of marketing services at (800) 637-0037, ext. 1283 or via e-mail at jill@bookweb.org.