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McDonald's in UK will distribute books rather than toys

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Mike Blake/Reuters

(Read caption) If McDonalds succeeds in giving away the 15 million books it proposes to offer customers, it will become the biggest distributor of children’s books in the UK.

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The next time children in the UK open a Happy Meal from McDonald's, they won’t find a toy tied to the latest movie release. Instead, there will be a book waiting for them.

The fast food chain has pledged to distribute 15 million books by the end of 2014 through its UK units. The program, which is being called the Happy Readers Initiative, began Jan. 9. The books currently being distributed are nonfiction titles from DK Publishing's Amazing World series, which includes titles that explore topics like space and marine life. The DK books will be distributed for five weeks and then McDonald's will move on to other books. The company has not yet said which additional titles will be given away as part of the program.

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McDonald’s is partnering with retailer WH Smith and is supported in the endeavor by the National Literacy Trust of Britain.

“Initiatives like McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign play an important role in getting more books into the hands of children,” National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas said in an interview with The Telegraph.

If it succeeds in giving away the 15 million books, McDonald’s will be the biggest distributor of children’s books in the UK. The restaurant chain will also distribute vouchers, which families can bring to WH Smith and use to get books.

No plans have been announced for a similar initiative in the United States.