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McDonald’s becomes U.K.’s biggest retailer of kids’ books

McDonald’s is super-sizing the U.K. children’s book market by replacing its Happy Meal toys with books.

As part of a month-long promotion with HarperCollins, the fast food chain will give out nine million copies of Michael Morpurgo’s Mudpuddle Farm book series.

According to The Telegraph, “In 2011, sales of children’s books averaged 1.16 million per week – 6.4 million in a four week period – which means that McDonald’s will be handing out considerably more children’s books than are usually sold in the U.K. in the same period.”

The promotion is supported by the National Literacy Trust and Booktrust, a charity which gives away over 5 million books a year, however, health activists have called the move a “cynical marketing ploy.” Morpurgo, who is the U.K.’s former children’s laureate and author of the popular War Horse, is donating royalties from the McDonald’s deal to his charity, Farms for City Children.

  • Heather M O’Connor

    Cynical marketing ploy? I call it a positive step for promoting literacy. Books have a far greater educational value and a longer lifespan than most Happy Meal Toys. 

  • K Johnston

    I agree with Heather, the toys are garbage. Books are great for children and parents! It’s a step in the right direction.

  • Michel

    This’ll last till the first lot of books run out, which will be long after McDonald’s realizes it will drive down their sales. Look, I’m all for books – I’m a writer – and it’s a great way to put a lot of them in the hands of kids. But every parent knows the whole point of the Happy Meal for their kids is that little plastic toy. If the kids stop getting the toy with the meal, they will stop wanting the meal. If they package the books WITH the toy, fine, otherwise, the kids will be sorely disappointed.

    Let’s not turn every happy childhood moment into a Sunday school sermon, no matter how good it is for the kids. Having fun is good for kids, too. Changing the rules on them is not fun for kids.

  • Su

    As K Johnston has observed, the toys are garbage, quite literally. At least the  books can be pulped and recycled. In most parts of the world they don’t have the facilities to reconstitute and recycle the plastic in those toys and so they simply go into the landfill, adding yet another environmental  nail into the planet’s coffin.

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