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McDonald's Cleaning up Happy Meal Image by Offering 20 Million Free Books

Oct 10, 2013 01:06 PM EDT | By Staff Reporter
McDonald's, Happy Meal, Marketing, Books
McDonald's Happy Meal
A file photo of a McDonald's Happy Meal(Photo : Reuters)

McDonald's, plans to distribute more than 20 million paperback books inside its Happy Meals in the U.S. during the two-week period between Nov. 1 and 14.

The books, self-published by McDonald's, will be based on company characters -- but not the Hamburglar or Ronald McDonald. Each book is 24-28 pages. McDonald's declined to give a dollar value for each book.

"Happy Meals fun for kids can be used to educate and inspire good choices," says Lisa McComb, a McDonald's spokeswoman.

The fast-food giant is looking to pacify critics who say their Happy Meals coupled with their toys are children-marketing tools and are assisting in the child obesity epidemic in the country.

McDonald's says the new books, which will replace toys in Happy Meals for the two weeks, are part of its nutrition commitment made in 2011, when it vowed to seed 100% of its communications toward kids with a nutritional message. 

The books, whose titles include The Goat Who Ate Everything and Doddi the Dodo Goes to Orlando, will focus on nutrition, imagination and active play, says McComb.

For example, The Goat Who Ate Everything is about a goat who has a big appetite and struggles to eat smart. But when he finally does, he feels great and becomes the playful kid who everyone loves.

"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 in a statement. "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."

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