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Supersizing Literacy? U.K. McDonalds Swapping Happy Meal Toys for Books

Would you like a book with those fries?

If you head to McDonald's in the U.K. you might hear an new question coming from behind the counter: Would you like a book with those fries? That's right, move over cheap toys, pint sized British consumers of McDonald's Happy Meals will now get a book instead. The fast food giant has partnered with publisher Dorling Kindersley and bookseller WH Smith and plans to distribute over 15 million books to kids over the next two years. The move makes McDonald's the largest book distributor in the U.K.

Kids will get a combination of fiction and nonfiction texts, including texts on science and technology topics. And, along with the book that comes with the Happy Meal, kids will get a certificate they exchange for a book at their local WH Smith bookstore.

The book distribution has the blessing of Britain's National Literacy Trust, which hopes to get more children reading. Jonathan Douglas, director of the NLT, told the Telegraph that their "research tells us that there is a very clear link between book ownership and children’s future success in life, so it is very concerning that one in three children in the UK doesn’t own a book, and half of kids don’t really enjoy reading."

While eating less fast food would certainly be healthier for kids, if they're already going to McDonald's, distributing books there is a pretty smart idea. If they keep this up and expand the program to other nations with low literacy rates, McDonald's will need a new phrase on their signs: Billions of readers served.

Kid reading photo via Shutterstock

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