Thursday, October 10, 2013

McDonald's swapping books for toys in Happy Meals

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For two weeks next month (November 1 - 14) McDonald's will be replacing Happy Meal toys with four original self-published book titles in an effort to promote literacy and healthy eating choices.

The release of the books coincides with National Literacy Day which is November 1st, and McDonald's has partnered with Reading is Fundamental to give additional books to kids who would otherwise not have access to them.
“Books are essential for inspiring children to explore, dream, and achieve, yet far too many children do not have this basic resource,” said Reading is Fundamental CEO Carol Hampton Rasco. “To change this unfortunate reality, RIF is uniting with McDonald’s, a company that embraces the transformative power of books and is committed to helping families and communities thrive. Together, McDonald’s and RIF can truly help enrich kids’ lives through access to books and by putting the fun back into reading.”
Also starting on Nov. 1, McDonald’s will give families anytime access to reading with a new interactive digital book each month through the end of 2014. The free interactive e-books will be available on McPlay, McDonald’s Happy Meal App, and will allow kids to read, discover and explore exciting new worlds. McDonald’s has partnered with DK Publishing, an award winning global publisher, to offer educational and entertaining content for customers – the first e-book introduces DK’s Amazing World Series, with “The World’s Greatest Cities.”

Kids will also be able to engage with an interactive digital version of McDonald’s Happy Meal print book, “The Goat Who Ate Everything” via the McPlay app. The Happy Meal Books, as well as the DK Publishing e-books, will also be available for download at Spanish versions of McDonald’s Happy Meal Books will be available on and

The books' themes focusing on healthy eating habits are the company's latest action supporting their 2011 Commitment to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices, "a comprehensive plan to help customers - especially families and children - make nutrition-minded choices whether eating at McDonald's or elsewhere."

The four limited-edition titles include:

The Goat Who Ate Everything tells a story of a goat who has a big appetite and struggles to eat right. But when he does, he feels great.

Deana's Big Dreams shares how Deana, the world's smallest dinosaur, grew tall by eating right.

Ant, Can't features features Ant, a bite-sized bodybuilder who's big on encouraging physical fitness through exercise and eating right.

Doddi the Dodo Goes to Orlando follows Doddi, a world traveling bird who eats right because she's always on the go.

Not everyone is "lovin' it" though. watchdog groups are claiming it's just more of the same (marketing to kids) and  that it's just a way for McDonald's to get their brand in front of kids in a very subversive way, citing that fast food is a big driver of childhood obesity.

I personally applaud McDonald's on their efforts on improving their nutrition choices by their automatic inclusion of apple slices, smaller kid-sized fries, and choice of a low fat milk with their Happy Meals and promotion of a healthy lifestyle to children. The parents are the ones ultimately responsible for what their children eat, and with the automatic inclusion of healthier options and smaller portions, better choices will become habit for kids.

What do you think?



  1. I couldn't agree with your last paragraph more. It really is time for parents to take responsibility for what their kids eat and if a book gets a kid to read, why not in a Happy Meal?

  2. In Germany I saw that the McDonald's gave books instead of toys - I was super impressed by that! I wish that would be the way in South Africa as well.

  3. Happy Meals are being purchased with toys in them- so why not books instead? I like the idea of having books with a meal and for some kids whose parents eat at McDonald's for many meals it could be a way to be exposed to the written word.

    Thanks for sharing!


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