When I was in elementary and middle school, my mom encouraged us four siblings (whom she all homeschooled from kindergarten through high school like a complete superhero) to participate in Book It! - the Pizza Hut summer book club. The general guidelines that I remember were for each age category you had to read a certain number of books and then you’d receive a mini personal pizza and a congratulatory pin. As a family who often visited Pizza Hut, especially on Sunday afternoons post church, and even knew the kind, red-headed waitress Nancy by name, it was a no-brainer.
Our weekly visits to the library became more intentional - and as the reward of free food is often want to do - motivation swelled and my siblings and I voraciously tore through our book count during those lazy days of summer vacation.
The joy and importance of reading has always been a part of my life. Even as an adult, summer feels like the ideal time to curl up on the couch with a book when it’s simply too hot to do anything else. In honor of all the summer reading nostalgia, our staff has offered up some of their favorite childhood reads that you and your kiddos might just want to add to your next reading list.
Sheila Kramer: When I was a college freshman, I had my tonsils removed. My roommate, who is still one of my closest friends, bought me a Golden Book called Good-bye, Tonsils. I treasured it for years. When my daughter was a freshman at U.F. she also had to have her tonsils removed and when she was home recuperating, I read her the tale of Good-bye, Tonsils and its main character, Dr. Constantinople. Years later, after many moves, we misplaced the book but as a birthday gift, my daughter found one on EBay and presented it to me!
Samantha Taylor: Harry the Dirty Dog. I have just always loved this book. It's the perfect story about mistaken identity. No matter how old you are, the book means something. To my three-year-old it means a white dog, got dirty, and no one recognized him. To me, it means - don't judge a book by its cover.
In college, this book was displayed in the bookstore. Every time I passed it, I'd mention how it was my favorite book to my friend. When I had my first child, she bought him the book. I've enjoyed reading it with all three of my children.
Rebekah Grier: One of my all-time favorite books as a kid was the Berenstain Bear book, Messy Room. It completely inspired my obsessive organizational tendencies and made me want to live in a treehouse as cool as the Berenstains!
Heather Loomis: Sleeping Beauty. I loved it so much, my mom said she almost changed my name to Aurora! Now, my daughter Reagan loves Goodnight Moon. Her favorite part is the three little bears sitting in chairs.
Chip Colandreo: Goofy Minds the House. I barely remember the storyline, but my mom tells me I was obsessed with it.
Mary Pando: Go, Dog. Go! I remember that dogs have a party in a tree and it just seemed like they were having so much fun!
Pam Neff : Where the Wild Things Are. I've always loved the illustrations, adventure, and imagination in the story.
(To see more about the Pizza Hut Book It! program, you can visit their website here.)
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