News

Morpurgo titles to be given away at McDonald's

Restaurant chain McDonald's is to give away nine million copies of Michael Morpurgo's Mudpuddle Farm books in its McDonald's Happy Meals for children, as part of a promotion with HarperCollins Children's Books.

The initiative will run from today, 11th January, to Tuesday 7th February. Customers ordering Happy Meals will be offered a free book from a selection including six titles from Mudpuddle Farm range including Mossop's Last Chance, Pigs Might Fly! and Martians at Mudpuddle Farm, all aimed at children aged six to eight years. The initiative is being publically backed by TV presenter Jeff Brazier.

Each book comes with a finger puppet and books will also be available to purchase at McDonald's restaurants without the need to buy a Happy Meal. In a separate deal, funded by WHS and McDonald's, the boxes also contain a voucher to allow consumers to buy Morpurgo’s Wombat Goes Walkabout or Cockadoodle-doo Mr Sultana! for £1 each, off an r.r.p. of £3.99 and £4.99, from selected W H Smith stores for a limited time.

Morpurgo said: "I'm pleased that nine million children in Britain will be receiving copies of my books during this promotion."  His own royalties on the titles will go to his charity, Farms for City Children.

Ann-Janine Murtagh, publisher at HarperCollins Children's Books, added: "We are delighted to be offering mums, dads and children the chance to enjoy books when they visit McDonald's. We hope it will provide a great experience of reading together and also introduce them to the wonderful world of stories by inspiring authors such as Michael Morpurgo."

The campaign is being backed by the National Literacy Trust. Director Jonathan Douglas said: “Our recent research showed that one in three children in this country don’t own a book, which is extremely concerning as there is a clear link between book ownership and children's future success in life. 

"We are very supportive of McDonald’s decision to give families access to popular books, as its size and scale will be a huge leap towards encouraging more families to read together.”

Blog: I'm not Lovin' It
 

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..but will they grab the 'bookseller of the year' crown from Sainsburys?

I don't know how I feel about this...

Special sales manager gets his bonus this year for sure .

All we need to do now is persuade the supermarkets to give books away and we can all go home.

BA will be rushing over to Macdonalds as we speak to sign them up as members.

I'm completely in two minds about this. Having done some work with children from lower income backgrounds I know that it's very often the case they do not have books at home. It appears to be the case in some families that books are seen as an outlandish luxury, to take second place to cigarettes, nights out and - yes - fast food.

This is not a sweeping generalisation about all families on low income by any means, and many do value books highly, but from my experience a large number of families do not buy their children books, or even support them in using the library.

So, on the one hand, this is potentially a great way of getting books into the hands of those kids, and for that reason it should be applauded. And yet there's a nagging doubt at the back of my mind that the kids won't get the benefit of these books without their parents encouraging them to read it. Every author under the sun is available "free" from the local library, yet these children do not use that facility. Are they likely, then, to read a free book just because it was given to them by a clown and smells faintly of chips? Maybe. I dunno.

I also wonder if it devalues books in general and turns it into some disposable freebie product, rather than something to be treasured and kept.

So... who knows if this is a good idea? The royalties are all going to charity, so on balance it probably is.

I think this is a great idea. It won't affect bookshops as kids get free books from school anyway, and from the library. These are main places kids are taken - it's not long since my sons were little.

But the difference is that they look forward to the gifts they get at McDonald's so they will be reading these books over their burgers or when they get home. I hated all the plastic rubbish they got there and would have loved books instead.

Anything that encourages them to read is good, and Morpurgo's publishers wouldn't do it if they didn't feel it would encourage parents to buy more books from the range.

And it goes to charity. It looks like a win,win,win situation.

We need to back it up with the 'buy local' campaign that's the trend at the moment and use it to help draw attention to bookshops.

Shortly tp appear at a Charity shop near you and thereafter at your local landfill site..........................................................

Whatever the toy is people will still buy happy meals, so surely a better quality toy ie a book can only be a good thing. It has the potential to show the kids that receive them that books are cool. Whatever the motivations, I think only good can come of it.

@ Dick - At least a book can be recycled. Those little plastic toys seem indestructible.

Oh yeah a great idea while kids are getting fatter eating McDonalds they can read a book! A cheap and cycnical publicity stunt and one that undermines the idea of books and reading contributing to our overall wellbeing.

As an Australian children's booseller, I love the range of views on issues like this in the UK. If McDonalds did a similar promotion here I believe I would support it, for all of the positive reasons already mentioned. As long as we keep books and reading away from a significant proportion of the population it will be seen as an elitist activity that many will ignore.
Booksellers across the world have many battles to fight, and although McDonalds and Harper Collins are not necessarily doing this just to improve the reading culture in Britain, I think we should only oppose initiatives from big business that disempower people and small businesses.

I agree Aussie. I also think most people who have to spend much of their time looking after children recognise that McDonald's isn't such a terrible place. Along with libraries it's one of the easiest and most cost effective places to escape from the home for a bit of respite. They only change the gifts about once a week, and eating there didn't seem to affect my children's health or make them obese. It was the cheapest place to have a fun birthday party, enjoyed by kids rich and poor from the nurseries and schools we went to, so it let everybody give their child an event even if they sometimes were invited to much posher celebrations. It was a great leveller. When my kids went through a 'selective eating' phase and it was hard to get them to eat anything, it was a real help. So I won't be knocking McDonald's as a cafe or for their gifts. How they look after animals etc is more important. I'm vegetarian myself and they had good veggie options.

I'm pretty much of the same opinion of you Barry, and ever since the Evening Standard started campaigning to get allegedly disadvantaged kids reading I've wondered whether the book trade is missing a trick.

You only have to visit a fast-food outlet in any major city to realise that there's a huge footfall in these places, and if the big players would start pushing books along with the deep-fried mush there would be benefits all round. I suspect that some market-research into the type of books on offer would be necessary for a campaign to work but wouldn't this be an interesting exercise?

..but will they grab the 'bookseller of the year' crown from Sainsburys?

I don't know how I feel about this...

Special sales manager gets his bonus this year for sure .

All we need to do now is persuade the supermarkets to give books away and we can all go home.

BA will be rushing over to Macdonalds as we speak to sign them up as members.

I'm completely in two minds about this. Having done some work with children from lower income backgrounds I know that it's very often the case they do not have books at home. It appears to be the case in some families that books are seen as an outlandish luxury, to take second place to cigarettes, nights out and - yes - fast food.

This is not a sweeping generalisation about all families on low income by any means, and many do value books highly, but from my experience a large number of families do not buy their children books, or even support them in using the library.

So, on the one hand, this is potentially a great way of getting books into the hands of those kids, and for that reason it should be applauded. And yet there's a nagging doubt at the back of my mind that the kids won't get the benefit of these books without their parents encouraging them to read it. Every author under the sun is available "free" from the local library, yet these children do not use that facility. Are they likely, then, to read a free book just because it was given to them by a clown and smells faintly of chips? Maybe. I dunno.

I also wonder if it devalues books in general and turns it into some disposable freebie product, rather than something to be treasured and kept.

So... who knows if this is a good idea? The royalties are all going to charity, so on balance it probably is.

I'm pretty much of the same opinion of you Barry, and ever since the Evening Standard started campaigning to get allegedly disadvantaged kids reading I've wondered whether the book trade is missing a trick.

You only have to visit a fast-food outlet in any major city to realise that there's a huge footfall in these places, and if the big players would start pushing books along with the deep-fried mush there would be benefits all round. I suspect that some market-research into the type of books on offer would be necessary for a campaign to work but wouldn't this be an interesting exercise?

I think this is a great idea. It won't affect bookshops as kids get free books from school anyway, and from the library. These are main places kids are taken - it's not long since my sons were little.

But the difference is that they look forward to the gifts they get at McDonald's so they will be reading these books over their burgers or when they get home. I hated all the plastic rubbish they got there and would have loved books instead.

Anything that encourages them to read is good, and Morpurgo's publishers wouldn't do it if they didn't feel it would encourage parents to buy more books from the range.

And it goes to charity. It looks like a win,win,win situation.

We need to back it up with the 'buy local' campaign that's the trend at the moment and use it to help draw attention to bookshops.

Shortly tp appear at a Charity shop near you and thereafter at your local landfill site..........................................................

Whatever the toy is people will still buy happy meals, so surely a better quality toy ie a book can only be a good thing. It has the potential to show the kids that receive them that books are cool. Whatever the motivations, I think only good can come of it.

@ Dick - At least a book can be recycled. Those little plastic toys seem indestructible.

Oh yeah a great idea while kids are getting fatter eating McDonalds they can read a book! A cheap and cycnical publicity stunt and one that undermines the idea of books and reading contributing to our overall wellbeing.

As an Australian children's booseller, I love the range of views on issues like this in the UK. If McDonalds did a similar promotion here I believe I would support it, for all of the positive reasons already mentioned. As long as we keep books and reading away from a significant proportion of the population it will be seen as an elitist activity that many will ignore.
Booksellers across the world have many battles to fight, and although McDonalds and Harper Collins are not necessarily doing this just to improve the reading culture in Britain, I think we should only oppose initiatives from big business that disempower people and small businesses.

I agree Aussie. I also think most people who have to spend much of their time looking after children recognise that McDonald's isn't such a terrible place. Along with libraries it's one of the easiest and most cost effective places to escape from the home for a bit of respite. They only change the gifts about once a week, and eating there didn't seem to affect my children's health or make them obese. It was the cheapest place to have a fun birthday party, enjoyed by kids rich and poor from the nurseries and schools we went to, so it let everybody give their child an event even if they sometimes were invited to much posher celebrations. It was a great leveller. When my kids went through a 'selective eating' phase and it was hard to get them to eat anything, it was a real help. So I won't be knocking McDonald's as a cafe or for their gifts. How they look after animals etc is more important. I'm vegetarian myself and they had good veggie options.