Books and McDonalds … not that crazy of an idea?


What if we could gave away millions of books to children for free? Every day? This news story started to sound less crazy to me, the more I thought about it. Per The Atlantic: “The U.K.’s Biggest Distributor of Children’s Books Is About to Be … McDonald’s” —

“It’s easy to make fun of the experimental McLiterature initiative — in the way that it’s easy to make fun of McDonald’s itself. But the chain is, like it or not, a juggernaut … one that has, as such, immense power over the impressionable kids among its customers. And this could be one way — one small way that, via McDonald’s mass impact, could prove significant — to get kids excited about reading. The initiative, Yahoo Shine reports, was inspired by data from Britain’s National Literacy Trust

…finding innovative new methods of getting books into kids’ hands. And that’s a good thing. But it means a strange, telling twist: McDonald’s expects to distribute 15 million books over the course of its initiative, between now and 2014. Which means that it will become the biggest distributor of children’s books in the entire United Kingdom.”


Will kids go for books over toys? Sure, it’s possible. Most won’t. But, some might. And if even some small percentage of those children discover a love of books who might not ordinarily have picked up a book, then I would say McDonald’s would have done a damn good job. The upshot of the “Happy Readers” experiment, hopefully, is that this could inspire book publishers to think up more creative ways of getting books in the hands of more readers.

Apparently there are no current plans for a U.S. version, which is too bad. The L.A. Times (“Will the kids love it? McDonald’s swaps Happy Meal toys for books”) dreams upon such a possibility … 150 million free books to children? From Happy Meals? Wow.


Surprise me


I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

tyler shores cambridge

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