By Carolyn Kellogg
4:23 PM PST, January 9, 2013
After a successful pilot program, McDonald's has pledged to distribute 15 million books in England over the next two years. In its Happy Meals. Instead of toys.
As a book blog, of course, we're all for this kind of thing. Give books away! Equate them with toys! Maybe even convince kids that books are toys!
But will the kids buy it?
Their parents might. The Guardian reports, "Alistair Macrow, McDonald's vice president, said that feedback about its book giveaway pilot had been 'overwhelmingly positive,' and that 9 out of 10 parents wanted to see more book promotions from the fast-food chain." Officials hope to make a positive contribution to promoting literacy in the country.
McDonald's has 1,200 branches in the U.K. There are 10 times as many in the U.S. -- 12,804, according to one tally. What if American McDonald's gave away 150,000 million books in the next two years? What would that do for young readers -- and for publishers?
The British book giveaway is sponsored in part by the country's National Literacy Trust. "When children own their own books, it makes a huge difference to their reading," organization head Conal Presho told The Guardian. "Our focus is on using any way we can to encourage children to read, and to read anything they can, whether that's menus in restaurants, non-fiction books or magazines – anything which spreads children's enjoyment of reading."
With books replacing toys in British Happy Meals, one thing kids won't be reading are assembly instructions for brightly-colored plastic gee-gaws.
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