McDonald’s To Give Away Books With Happy Meals in Britain

McDonald's is set to become the largest children's book distributor in the UK with their new Happy Readers program.

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A flag blows in the wind above a McDonald's restaurant

REUTERS/Mike Blake

Along with burgers and fries, McDonald’s is going to be serving up children’s literacy. The fast food franchise is set to start offering books as the prize in children’s Happy Meals instead of cheap toys — in the U.K., at least.

Following a pilot program, which gave nine million books away last year, McDonald’s committed to a longer promotion, which is backed by Britain’s National Literacy Trust. The super-sized book giveaway, called “Happy Readers,” kicked off today with a five-week promotion of non-fiction books from DK Books’ Amazing World series. According to The Telegraph, young readers can also opt to choose their own books at a local retailer, W.H. Smith.

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“Our research tells us that there is a very clear link between book ownership and children’s future success in life, so it is very concerning that one in three children in the U.K. doesn’t own a book, and half of kids don’t really enjoy reading,” Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust, told the Telegraph. “Initiatives like McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign play an important role in getting more books into the hands of children, and inspiring families to read together as a fun and interactive pastime.”

If they meet their expectations to distribute one book with each Happy Meal sold in the U.K., McDonald’s estimates that they will become the largest children’s book distributor in the country, with a total of 15 million books handed out by the end of 2014.

McDonald’s currently has no plans to bring the Happy Readers initiative to the United States, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t come here in the future, Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, Vice President of Global External Communications, told Yahoo! Shine.

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