There's an article in CNN about Pizza Hut's "Book It" program being denounced by critics as corporate sponsorship run amok, leading to child obesity, etc. In the program kids read a certain amount of books and, in an exchange, receive a gift certificate towards a personal pan pizza. Critics say that all this is doing is pressuring parents to take their kids to Pizza Hut to engorge them with heart-disease-ridden pizza.
It's sad because yes, this is "corporate sponsorship run amok," and the end result is simply more business for pizza hut by the parents who have to buy a large pizza when they bring their kid there for his or her personal pan. It's sad because it's promoting fatty snacks for learning, and what kid would want to read a book if there wasn't a pizza in it for him?
But it's also sad because in many schools or families I imagine that this is the only way to get some kids to read. There's plenty of families out there that do a lousy job of promoting good learning habits and plenty of families that truly believe a pizza provides all four of the basic food groups (breads, meats, cheese, veggies) in one convenient package.
And lastly, it's sad because, frankly, I'd be willing to bet the Pizza Hut marketers truly believe this isn't a bad idea. Hey, if we can help kids learn to read, we're doing a great favor to our kids! So why shouldn't we make a buck or two while we do it? We've got to be able to afford the plan somehow, right? Well, yes. Right. But usually every bad idea that ends up blowing up the earth starts off as a good idea with good intentions.
I think I will go read a book to my daughter while she eats some fruit. she might even like it.