WRITTEN BY AUTUMN CLOUDEN
Kids looking for a plastic toy inside of their Happy Meals will be out of luck. Fast food giant McDonald’s is offering books instead of toys from now until February 15.
The company is offering books as part of a program to combat illiteracy rates among children in the United States.
Different chains and cities will distribute a variety of books. This year’s books include Valentine’s Day paperback editions like Happy Valentines Day Mr. Mouse by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond, Bruce Hale’s Clark the Shark Takes Heart, Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool by Kimberly and James Dean, and Michael Bond’s Paddington.
“Nearly 65% of 4th graders read at or below the basic level,” Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental, said in a statement. “And more than 75% of children who are poor readers by the end of third grade remain poor readers and ultimately fall behind in school. To help fix this,” she continued, “We must get books into more young readers’ hands.”
By the time the promotion is over, the fast food chain is slated to distribute more than 50 million children’s books to their unsuspecting young readers.
Spanish language versions of the books are also available with the meal. In addition to distributing the books, McDonald’s plans to donate 10,000 books to Reading Is Fundamental (RIF).
“By giving them choices and increasing access to books, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of those who need us most,” added Rasco.
This is a not the first time McDonald’s swapped toys for books. The chain partnered with RIF and HarperCollins back in 2013 and 2015 for the same project. They currently operate a similar program in the U.K.
The company hopes to make an enduring and meaningful impact on its young customers and to remind them that reading is an important part of their education.