In an effort to encourage children to read, McDonald’s in New Zealand is tossing out the plastic toys and replacing them with books by revered author Roald Dahl.
Approximately 800,000 books will be handed out. The books are excerpts of Dahl’s works, with titles like Amazing Matilda and Wonderful Mr. Wonka.
The specially created books are abridged versions of the classic Dahl tales, and they will come with stickers and activities. Dahl was chosen because he’s just as beloved by parents as he is by kids.
McDonald’s New Zealand director of marketing, Jo Mitchell, told The Independent, “The Roald Dahl characters are ones that many parents will have enjoyed growing up, and it’s great to play a part in introducing them to a new generation.”
The effort is part of McDonald’s international Happy Meal Readers program that started in 2001 in Sweden. It has since distributed around 450 million books throughout the globe. McDonald’s New Zealand began participation a decade ago.
As children become more scheduled with activities and schoolwork, reading for pleasure has fallen to the wayside. Only 52% of children, ages eight to 18 years of age, read for pleasure. It’s a shame because those who do perform better on exams and show higher levels of critical thinking.
As Mitchell explains, “The Happy Meal Readers programme is all about helping parents to get their children to enjoy reading.”
In other words, if you’re a Kiwi, you just might get asked if you’d like a Matilda with your next meal!