The National Literacy Trust, “the only national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK,” has just announced a partnership with McDonald’s Happy Readers books program, providing tips for readers and an endorsement logo to tag on to the books made available through WHSmith under the program.
“Every McDonald’s Happy Meal box sold in the UK features a Happy Readers voucher to buy a children’s book worth around £4.99 [$8.00] for just £1 [$1.60],” explains the announcement. “Since it was launched in 2007 the WH Smith £1 book offer has seen more than 2.5 million children’s books redeemed, with nearly 500,000 having been handed out in 2013 so far alone.” McDonald’s has pledged to distribute over 15 million books to UK families by end 2014. I’d argue that the McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign has done more for the mental nourishment of Britain’s kids than their junk food ever did for the children’s bodies.
This comes a day after the NLT announced “plans to work with the children’s football fiction author, Tom Palmer, on a unique World Cup reading resource pack,” following England’s qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Palmer said in the announcement: “”I love to use football to encourage children to read because I didn’t like reading at all when I was a boy. My mum saw me struggling and used my obsession with football to get me reading newspapers and magazines, eventually building my confidence to try reading books.”
“Reading for enjoyment can enrich children and young people’s lives beyond the classroom and give them vital skills for the rest of their lives,” Lisa Rootes, Head of Partnerships at the NLT, said. And I only wish that such a statement was needless in Britain. According to the NLT, “Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy.” And as it happens, their third annual literacy survey of almost 35,000 kids, done end 2012, concluded that “children and young people are reading less and more are embarrassed to be seen reading, while many also believe that their parents don’t care if they spend time reading.” Sounds like a really supportive UK public out there snacking on its burgers.