People Got Real Mad At Pizza Hut For Recommending A Book That Celebrates Drag Kids
Who would think that encouraging kids to read could cause such a ruckus?
Twitter was ablaze with people on both sides of the aisle coming in hot for the latest controversy surrounding the unlikely combination of pizza and literacy. Folks have opted to boycott Pizza Hut over its selection of the picture book, Big Wig, that celebrates drag, individuality, and self-confidence for its long-running kids’ reading club.
For almost 40 years now, Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT! program aims to reward hungry young readers who accomplish their personal reading goals with free pizza toppings. According to its mission statement, the pizza giant’s incentive-based literacy initiative is the longest running corporate supported reading program. But it was the choice of the recent picture book, Big Wig, by Jonathan Hillman from Pizza Hut’s reading list for kids that ignited the recent social media firestorm and led some to call for a boycott.
Big Wig follows the story of a little boy who dressed in drag for a neighborhood costume company. According to Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher: “This wonderful read aloud celebrates the universal childhood experience of dressing up and the confidence that comes with putting on a costume. And it goes further than that, acknowledging that sometimes dressing differently from what might be expected is how we become our truest and best selves.” Big Wig has received some stellar reviews and has garnered comparisons to another beloved picture book with similar themes, Julian Is a Mermaid.
While it was unclear if anyone who commented on the picture book actually read the title, many of those who were offended by the kids’ book club pick accused Pizza Hut for being “too woke,” with the hashtag #GoWokeGoBroke trending on Twitter:
Others, however, vehemently backed up Pizza Hut’s book pick, and fiercely defended freedom of expression, Pride Month, and the LGBTQ+ community.
One Twitter user had a pretty clever take on the debate. “All these folks mad at Pizza Hut because they think reading a book about drag queens will somehow turn kids into drag queens are going to be shocked to learn that I read a ton of Hardy Boys as a kid but have yet to solve one single mystery,” tweeted @aaronhoyland.
Others had an even more cutting angle: “Sorry but if your kids are swayed to become non-binary because of Pizza Hut it just means heterosexuality is failing in the marketplace of ideas.”
Although book banning in schools and libraries has become a hot topic lately, some who jumped into the online dialogue offered a somber reminder of the more pressing issues facing our country’s children. “GOP is furious at Pizza Hut for celebrating pride month; Democrats are furious that kids are getting slaughtered in school. Let that sink in,” wrote @Willowstaffer.
Award-winning author of Big Wig, Jonathan Hillman, who is at the center of this debate, took the high road to address any of his haters. “What a gift to see how much more powerful our love is than their hate,” he tweeted. “Lifting, celebrating, and empowering those who are made to feel small—that’s the message of BIG WIG.” The author also thanked his friends and supporters in the writing and publishing community.
Whatever your beliefs about cancel culture or what books are appropriate for children, most parents agree that kids need to read more diverse books. Big Wig might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it seems like a pretty fitting choice to celebrate Pride Month.
So if supporting the LGBTQ+ community and art is important to you and your family, grab a copy of Big Wig with your little bookworm and enjoy that extra pepperoni. And when you get home and are ready to relax on the couch, here are 10 great LGBTQ+ movies to watch with your kids that will pair quite nicely with a take-out box of signature pan pizza, too.