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Education Worldwide

Happy Meal Books Put More Books in Homes

The British National Literacy Trust reports that, in the United Kingdom, one in three children do not own a book. On the other hand, eight out of ten families with young children visit a McDonald's Restaurant at least once a year.

Therefore, literacy campaigners in Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom support McDonald's Happy Meal campaign. During this campaign, McDonald's hands out free children's books to the buyer of a Happy Meal.

All book titles on offer are of high quality. The German Reading Foundation Stiftung Lesen, for instance, has approved the selection of titles to be suitable for children of a certain age. Parents can choose a book according to their wishes. In Germany, the titles range from fiction to nonfiction books, some being suited for reading aloud to the little ones, other for older children reading themselves. The UK campaign included six titles from the Mudpuddle Farm series.

All books were produced and bought by McDonald's in cooperation with the respective publishing houses. An impressive number of books were given away. In Germany alone, four million books found their way into the homes of families with children aged five to ten years during the campaign in September 2012.

This is why – despite some complaints from food advocates such as Foodwatch – literacy campaigners such as Stiftung Lesen are so supportive of the respective national Happy Meal campaigns. They serve as a low-threshold tool to reach children of families that do not value books and reading as much as needed in order for the children to acquire functional reading skills.

Looking at the Swedish campaign, the EU High Level Report on Literacy states that the Happy Meal campaign served as an example to make reading and books more visible and accessible.

(Image: © McDonald's)