McDonald’s Happy Meals now have books instead of toys, as part of a campaign meant to curb illiteracy among kids across the United States.
The fast food restaurant chain based in Oak Brook, Illinois launched this new book give-away after joining forces with the nonprofit literacy organization Reading is Fundamental (RIF), and with the famous publishing company HarperCollins.
It’s actually not the first time that McDonald’s has renounced plastic toys made in China in favor of books, as part of the secret gifts found inside Happy Meals.
As explained by Carol H. Rasco, chief executive officer at Reading is Fundamental, the restaurant chain spearheaded a similar initiative in 2013, but now the stakes are even higher than before.
Although this year’s project only debuted on February 2 and will unfold up until February 15, it is hoped that by the time 2016 ends, approximately 17 million books will eventually be distributed, raising the number of volumes that McDonald’s has been giving away to a staggering 50 million.
While this means that in theory the literary pieces would be enough to go round for every US kid aged 11 or lower, the main aim isn’t to ensure that the books reach as many children throughout the nation as possible.
Instead, the ultimate objective is to to instill among those who will get their hands on the Happy Meal books a genuine passion for literature, coupled with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
This in turn will allow kids to boost their brain development and academic performance, while also becoming more acquainted with the complex mechanisms of the world they live in, in order to grow up to be inspired, enlightened and well-informed adults.
This necessity is especially vital nowadays, when around two-thirds of all the impoverished kids in the United States own no books whatsoever, and approximately 64% all the four-graders have reading skills that are either basic or sub-par.
Even worse, as Rasco points out, around three quarters of the all third-graders that have trouble poring over books never manage to boost their reading comprehension, eventually having poor results in school up until the end.
Among the titles that will be found in the McDonald’s Happy Meals instead of the regular Star Wars and Hello Kitty toys is the much-beloved instant classic “Paddington” by Michael Bond.
The selection also includes 3 titles perfect for Valentine’s Day, which is fast approaching: “Clark the Shark Takes Heart” by Bruce Hale, “Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool” by Kimberly and James Dean, and “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!” by Felicia Bond and Laura Numeroff.
All the paperback volumes have been custom-made in order to correspond to have one specific size (4 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches), so that they can be accommodated by the tiny Happy Meals.
Apparently in some McDonald’s establishments the children’s books have also been translated, in order to cater for the Spanish-speaking public.
So far, approximately 100,000 of the books featured in this campaign have already been pledged to Reading is Fundamental, but millions others are still waiting patiently for their future owners.
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