Friday, January 13, 2012

Food for Thought?

McDonald’s To Put Kids’ Books in Happy Meals

January 13, 2012



McDonald’s To Put Kids' Books in Happy Meals

According to England’s National Literacy Trust, for a limited time the world’s most popular fast-food chain McDonald’s will be exchanging its famous Happy Meal toys for books at all of its UK locations.

Starting today until February 7th, the iconic burger franchise will distribute nine million copies of the popular Mudpuddle Farm book series by British author Michael Morpurgo.

Morpurgo has earned critical acclaim for a number of books, plays and poems. His most famous work, the novel “War Horse,” has been adapted as a Broadway play and, most recently, as a feature length film by legendary director Steven Spielberg.

The National Literacy Trust says that each Happy Meal book comes equipped with a finger puppet figure in order “to help parents bring the stories to life for their children.”

Mr. Morpurgo, who recently received the biannual Children’s Laureate prize for distinguished writers and illustrators of children’s literature, is a well-known advocate of child literacy and a patron of numerous philanthropic children’s organizations.

In an effort to preemptively defend its decision to collaborate with a corporation that has drawn much media criticism in recent years, the National Literacy Trust cited a 2011 statistic showing that some 33% of all British children do not own a book.

Yet a number of critics don’t consider this sufficient cause to team up with an organization that many accuse of directly contributing to the west’s growing child-obesity dilemma.

The British newspaper Daily Mail recently quoted a statement by the director of the Children’s Food Campaign Charlie Powell who sees McDonald’s book project as a cynical scheme to sell Happy Meals.

“At a time when we have a childhood obesity epidemic, this is clearly an inappropriate marketing strategy,” said Mr. Powell.

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