Finally! A McDonald's Happy Meal prize that isn't junk

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McDonalds to Give Books with Happy Meals Not Toys

Fast food chain McDonald's is combating childhood obesity by offering something other than a toy in their Happy Meals. If you buy a Happy Meal for your child during the first two weeks in November, you’ll find something unusual and incredibly refreshing inside: a book.

McDonald’s is set to publish about 20 million Happy Meal books, according to NPR, all of which will feature original characters in nutrition-themed plots. A similar campaign was successful in England earlier last year.

The book giveaway, in partnership with literacy advocacy organization Reading is Fundamental, is, in some ways, a marriage made in heaven. Two-thirds of children living in poverty have no access to books in the home, according to RIF—a deficit that puts them behind before they’ve even started school. Many of those same families frequent McDonald’s for their low-cost meals, so the campaign’s reaching families where they already are. 20 million is a huge number—that’s more than total copies of The Hunger Games sold in 2012, according to NPR—so the campaign could have a big impact.

Some will argue that Mickey D’s distributing an anti-obesity message via books makes about as much sense as Joe Camel telling you not to smoke. And some will cry foul at marketing aimed at kids (although, hello, isn’t the Happy Meal already marketed to kids?). But we say a book is a book—and getting more of them into the hands of kids in need just can't be a bad thing.

Mixed reception aside, one things for sure: Twitter’s having fun coming up with spoof book titles using the hashtag #McBooks. Our faves so far: The Sound and the McFlurry, Lord of the Fries and As I Lay Frying.

Mom of two Sasha Emmons is a writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.