McDonald’s in New Zealand has replaced the Happy Meals' toys with books by Roald Dahl. The effort to encourage more kids to read has spread to other Happy Meals boxes in other countries—showing the company’s dedication to the cause. Hopefully, the kids will be just as excited to receive a new book with their meal instead of the usual plastic toy.
While play is an essential part to a child’s growth, encouraging reading from a young age will greatly help develop their learning skills. According to the National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES), children who are read to at home are more likely to develop intellectual advantages over those who aren’t. Students who do more reading at home learn faster and obtain higher grades in school later on. With books available in Happy Meals, more kids could have immediate access to child-appropriate stories to read.
McDonald’s is set to distribute around 800,000 copies of the books over the next six weeks. The books are specially created for the meal, and the stories give kids a taste of the original novels by Roald Dahl. The six titles are Wonderful Mr. Willy Wonka, Matilda, Fantabulous BFG, Lucky Charlie Bucket, Brave Little Sophie, and Marvellous Miss Honey. All the illustrations were done by Quentin Blake, and every copy comes with a selection of stickers and activities.
The fast food giant’s dedication to their Happy Meal Readers program can be seen in other locations, not just New Zealand. Malaysian stores offer the option of either a book or a toy with their Happy Meal. Titles available for the kids come from an exclusive 12-book series by Cressida Cowell. Singaporean branches began to put Mr. Men and Little Miss books in their Happy Meal boxes last September.
The NCES also reports that children in families with income below the poverty line are less likely to be read to because of a lack of books. On average, a Happy Meal costs around $3 to $4, and a parent can get a meal and a book for that price. With more McDonald’s stores encouraging reading, maybe more kids will ask for books for their birthdays instead of the next iPhone.