One of the joys of childhood was receiving a novelty-themed “Made in China” bit of plastic via a McDonald’s drive-through window. But in a bid to degrease their image, McDonalds branches in the United States are planning to give away books instead of toys.
Served with their children's Happy Meals, McDonald's will distribute titles including Michael Bond’s “Paddington,” Bruce Hale’s “Clark the Shark Takes Heart,” Kimberly and James Dean’s “Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool,” and Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond’s “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!” The books will be downsized so they can fit into the Happy Meal boxes.
The initiative is in partnership with HarperCollins and Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a nonprofit organization focused on promoting children’s literacy in disadvantaged communities. On the RIF website, they said: “Our goal is not only to distribute books to kids who need them, but to ignite a passion for learning. When children develop a love of reading, they become better students and more aware of and engaged in the world around them.”
Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF, wrote about the scheme on the McDonald’s Medium blog, saying, "McDonald’s began distributing Happy Meal Books in 2013 and, by the end of this year, by the end of this year, will have distributed more than 50 million books to children – enough to provide a book to every child in America under the age of 12."
She added, "Nearly 65 percent of 4th graders read at or below the basic level. And more than 75 percent of children who are poor readers by the end of 3rd grade remain poor readers and ultimately fall behind in school. To help fix this we must get books into more young readers’ hands."
However, the move is not a permanent one. The book give-away will only last from February 9 to February 15.
While encouraging kids to get into reading and learning is always admirable, it’s worth noting you can pick up a book for free from a public library without the need to consume a relatively unhealthy amount of saturated fats and salt.
Main image credit: Stéfan/Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0