McDonald's US swaps toys for books in new Happy Meal campaign

McDonald’s restaurants in the US are following on the heels of their British cousins by launching a literacy drive that will distribute 20 million books to families across the country over the course of two weeks.

The campaign, set to coincide with National Family Literacy Day November 1, will include access to digital ebooks as well as Happy Meal Books featuring four original stories that teach the values of nutrition via dinosaurs, ants, a dodo bird and an insatiable goat.

The inaugural British book drive of 2012 was launched at a time when the international fast food giant was under heavy fire for its Happy Meal toys, criticized as a marketing ploy that seduces young children into begging for a burger meal.

The fast food chain was described as the world’s biggest retailer of children’s books that month as it distributed nine million books.

Meanwhile, beginning November 1, children will have access to ebooks through the end of 2014 on McDonald’s Happy Meal App, McPlay. The first ebook on the roster, published by DK Publishing, will be “The World’s Greatest Cities.” Digital books are also available for download at . Spanish versions are also available.

A second installation of Happy Meal books will launch across the US in 2015.