America's Biggest Bedtime Story Returns with John Lithgow and BOOK IT!

Families and classrooms invited to join the fun and help feed Haiti

February 17, 2010 // Franchising.com // DALLAS – Calling all children, parents, and teachers – grab your books and PJs because the nation's largest annual bedtime story event, America's Biggest Bedtime Story, is back by popular demand for the third year. BOOK IT!®, the reading incentive program sponsored by Pizza Hut®, is teaming up with children's author and award-winning actor John Lithgow to invite readers to participate in America's Biggest Bedtime Story by logging on to www.bookitprogram.com on Feb. 18 starting at 9 a.m. CST.

For this year's event, Lithgow will share his book, Carnival of the Animals, and if more readers participate in America's Biggest Bedtime Story than in previous years, BOOK IT! will donate funds for 50,000 meals to Haiti Relief through the World Food Programme. The magic number was set last year when 197,972 participants watched Lithgow read his book, I Got Two Dogs.

"Our research shows that parents aren't spending enough time reading to their kids at night," said Leslie Brunt, program director of the BOOK IT! Program. "The goal of America's Biggest Bedtime Story is to encourage more families to start a tradition of reading together for at least 20 minutes every night. This year we have a special challenge to readers – if 2010 is our largest event yet, the readers will help provide a donation for Haiti relief through the WFP."

Carnival of the Animals (Simon & Schuster) illustrated by Boris Kulikov and inspired by Camille Saint-Saens's composition, is the story of a young boy who falls asleep in a natural history museum on a school field trip, only to find his classmates, teachers, and family transformed into a menagerie of animals.

How to Participate

Readers can join in by logging on to www.bookitprogram.com on February 18 starting at 9 a.m. CST. The webcast will be available online until 11:59 p.m. on February 18. The read-along will feature Lithgow reading his book, Carnival of Animals. In addition, an encore presentation of Lithgow's 2009 reading of I Got Two Dogs will also be available for viewing.

About America's Biggest Bedtime Story

2010 marks the third annual America's Biggest Bedtime Story online webcast hosted by The BOOK IT! Program. Last year 197,972 participants logged on to watch John Lithgow read I Got Two Dogs, tripling the attendance from the inaugural webcast when Lithgow shared his book, The Remarkable Farkle McBride.

America's Biggest Bedtime Story was created in 2007 by the BOOK IT! Program in response to research that revealed that nearly half of all American parents (48 percent of those responding to a BOOK IT! Program survey) do not have a nightly tradition of reading to their kids before bed.(1)

There is a need to read at home. According to a 2003 study by Cathy Collins Block, professor at Texas Christian University School of Education, student achievement is significantly bolstered by just 20 extra minutes of reading each day (Hunter, 2004, p. 39).(2) A 2008 poll of teachers who participated in the BOOK IT! Program found that 96 percent of teachers agreed that parents aren't spending enough time reading to their kids at home.(3) In fact, according to this survey, when it comes to reading at home, nearly 42 percent of the responding teachers said that they would give parents a grade of D or F.

Parents looking to improve their "grades" can try reading the book that teachers surveyed recommended most for bedtime reading, Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. Parents can also find helpful tools on www.bookitprogram.com, including tips on encouraging literacy at home and a bedtime story contract to encourage nightly reading as a family.

About John Lithgow

John Lithgow, two-time Emmy and Tony Award winner, and two-time Academy Award nominee, was the star of the long-running hit comedy series "3rd Rock from the Sun" for NBC-TV. He most recently found success on television with his Golden Globe-winning performance on Showtime's "Dexter". Lithgow can currently be seen at the Second Stage Theatre in New York City starring alongside Jennifer Ehle in Douglas Carter Beane's new play "Mr. & Mrs. Fitch." His 1982 Academy Award-nominated portrayal in "The World According to Garp" brought Lithgow national attention. He received his second Academy Award nomination the following year for his role as Debra Winger's lover in "Terms of Endearment." Just some of his other notable film credits include his panic-stricken airline passenger in "Twilight Zone: The Movie," "Memphis Belle," "Footloose," "All That Jazz," Brian DePalma's "Blow Out," "Raising Cain" and "Shrek." Addressing a completely new audience in "John Lithgow's Kid-Size Concert," a music video of children's classics and original tunes, Lithgow also showcases his talents as an actor, singer, songwriter, and co-producer. Born in Rochester, NY, John Lithgow lives in Los Angeles, CA.

About BOOK IT!

In 1985, Pizza Hut established the BOOK IT! National Reading Incentive Program to motivate children to read more and help them develop a lifelong love of reading. BOOK IT! is a six-month program for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

About Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut delivers more pizza, pasta and wings than any other restaurant. The only pizza company to be named a top ten franchise in 2009 by Entrepreneur Magazine, Pizza Hut began 50 years ago in Wichita, Kansas and today operates thousands of restaurants around the globe. Pizza Hut, Inc. is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. ( YUM).

1) The BOOK IT! Program worked with Synovate to conduct a 2007 online survey of 444 American parents 18 and older with children, 9 years old or younger. 2) Hunter, Phyllis (2004, January/February). Classroom Libraries Level the Playing Field. Scholastic Instructor Magazine, p. 39. 3) The BOOK IT! Program conducted a 2009 online survey of 469 teachers who participate in the BOOK IT! Program.

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