The McDonald’s Happy Meal box just got a makeover. Dig inside and included in the price of the Happy Meal you will find a book along with the menu items, instead of the toy. To all the Shopkins, Pokémon and Beanie Babies collectors, hold your horses and get reading.
According to Los Angeles Times, from now until Feb 9, the Happy Meals will contain one of four books, including the classic Paddington by Michael Bond and illustrated by R. W. Alley. The three other titles all have Valentine’s Day themes: Clark the Shark Takes Heart by Bruce Hale and illustrated by Guy Francis; Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond; and Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day Is Cool by Kimberly and James Dean.
McDonald’s has partnered with the literacy nonprofit Reading is Fundamental, donating 100,000 books to the organization from this year’s Happy Meal Books program.
The books are sized to fit into Happy Meal Boxes. They’re petite paperbacks, about 4.5 by 5.5 inches. The books will be accompanied by Valentine’s Day cards and can be scanned to play a game online. Some Happy Meal Boxes will include Spanish version of the books at some locations.
Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading is Fundamental (RIF), USA’s largest children’s literacy organization made the following statement.
“Our team at Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest children’s literacy organization, is pleased to partner with McDonald’s and its mission to put books in millions of little hands. Books are the building blocks for a better future – they foster the imagination, expand our understanding of the world and fuel a lifelong love of learning. There’s magic in books, and the simple act of reading with our children has a profound impact on their educational development. By giving them choices and increasing access to books, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of those who need us most.”
The children who do not have access to books often lag behind. Nearly 65 percent of 4th graders read at or below the basic level. And more than 75 percent of children who are poor readers by the end of 3rd grade remain poor readers and ultimately fall behind in school.
Two-thirds of children live in poverty without books. McDonald’s and its Happy Meal Books program is helping to provide critical access to books to inspire children to read. By the end of this year, McDonalds will have distributed more than 50 million books to children — enough to provide a book to every child in America under the age of 12.
The Huffington Post reported that this is the third year McDonald’s has partnered with the literacy nonprofit Reading is Fundamental for this particular project. The giveaway also ran in 2013 and 2015.
Rasco wrote about the importance of the program in a post for Medium.
“The benefits of reading abound. We know it increases a strong foundation of learning, keeps kids in school, increases graduation rates and inspires the pursuit of post-secondary education and training required to transition into adulthood. We’re deeply committed and grateful to be working with McDonald’s and HarperCollins to ensure that books and the joy of reading remain a part of every child’s growth and development.”
Reading is the foundation of education. McDonalds and its Happy Meal Books program is definitely doing its part to make sure books reach the hands of each and every child.
[Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images]