McDonald’s to Give Away 17 Million Books in Its Happy Meals

Paddington and other titles will be packed alongside the chicken nuggets.

Via Flickr user Mike Mozart

Now through February 15, McDonald’s will be giving away children’s picture books in its Happy Meals. Titles include Paddington by Michael Bond and R.W. Alley, and three Valentine’s Day-themed books: Clark the Shark Takes Heart by Bruce Hale and 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. The books will be resized to 4.5 inches by 5.5 inches in order to fit inside Happy Meal boxes. Spanish versions will also be available.

This is the third consecutive year that McDonald’s has taken a break from serving up plastic toys in favor of books. After the 2016 campaign, it will have distributed more than 50 million children’s books. Given the chain’s history of aggressively marketing unhealthy meals to kids, the book giveaway is a welcome change—especially because many low-income children will receive books they may not have gotten otherwise. According to the National Commission on Reading, “The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.”

(H/T Los Angeles Times)