Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Burgers with a side of books: McDonald's offers free reads with Happy Meals in the UAE

The fast-food chain will give copies of a Cressida Cowell book to children in a bid to get more kids reading

Would you like a hardback with that? McDonald's UAE is giving customers the choice of a toy or a children's book with its Happy Meals. AP
Would you like a hardback with that? McDonald's UAE is giving customers the choice of a toy or a children's book with its Happy Meals. AP

The Happy Meal just got a little bit more highbrow in the UAE. McDonald's branches across the country are offering younger customers the chance to pick up a free book with their cheeseburger or chicken nuggets, as part of an initiative to nurture a love of reading in children.

The Happy Readers programme, which launched in UAE outlets of the fast-food giant for the first time this month, offers a free copy of an exclusive book by British children's author Cressida Cowell with every Happy Meal purchased.

Cowell, who is behind the best-selling How to Train Your Dragon series, has written 12 titles for the McDonald's campaign. Each book in the series, called the Treetop Twins Adventures, is published in hardback, with two new titles available every eight weeks.

Author Cressida Cowell has penned 12 books for the campaign. Supplied
Author Cressida Cowell has penned 12 books for the campaign. Supplied

The books can be picked up instead of a McDonald's toy, which typically comes with the child-sized Happy Meals, which are from Dh13 in the UAE.

"Through this campaign, we want children to discover the joys of reading," said Rafic Fakih, managing director and partner at McDonald’s UAE. The initiative will run throughout 2019, he added. "The books have been written with the children in mind, and will hopefully inspire some fun family storytelling moments," said Fakih.

Cowell's series of books will also be available on the McDonald’s Happy Meal app, so children can also keep up with the adventures online.

This isn't the first time the company has introduced free reads with its meals. It replaced Happy Meal toys with Roald Dahl books in New Zealand earlier this year. The Happy Readers programme has also been rolled out in countries such as the UK, Malaysia and Singapore.

McDonald’s says to date it has distributed almost 450 million books globally through the initiative.

Updated: April 17, 2019 04:01 PM

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