With the help of 11,546 classrooms across the U.S., the Pizza Hut® BOOK IT! ® Program is donating 100,000 books to children affected by Hurricane Katrina, according to a press release. This donation marks the fifteen-year anniversary of National Young Reader’s Day, celebrated today.

From Sept. 19 – 30, BOOK IT! challenged teachers in schools across the country to read aloud up to an extra hour to their students, and in return, BOOK IT! would donate a book for every extra minute read, up to 100,000 books.

“Research has proven that reading aloud to kids is the single most important factor in raising a reader,” said Leslie Tubbs, director of the BOOK IT! National Reading Incentive Program. “It’s important for us to celebrate National Young Reader’s Day this year knowing that we are helping to put books back into the Gulf Coast children’s hands so they can once again experience the joy of reading with their families.”

National Young Reader’s Day, established 15 years ago by the Library of Congress Center for the Book and the Pizza Hut® BOOK IT! ® National Reading Incentive Program, is an annual reminder of the benefits and rewards of reading, with the mission of encouraging parents across the country to take time to experience the fun and pleasure of reading aloud as a family.

The 100,000 books will be distributed through First Book, a national non-profit organization that gives children in need the opportunity to read and own their first new books. The donation will be sent to the Gulf Coast region where more than 370,000 children were displaced and 600 schools were destroyed.

“We were overwhelmed with the participation from the thousands of elementary schools that took on the challenge to donate books to other kids by reading extra minutes in their classrooms,” said Tubbs. “This was an opportunity for our BOOK IT! readers to help us make books available to kids Pizza Hut National Young Readers Day who may not have any or may have lost their favorite library selections in the aftermath of the storm. These BOOK IT! kids were more than up to the challenge and eager to help others in need.”

In addition to donating 100,000 books, and in celebration of National Young Reader’s Day, thousands of schools nationwide will host local reading role model “celebrities” – such as local officials, sports figures, public safety officers and other guests from the public and private sector – to read aloud a favorite children’s book to students.

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