Literacy is as much a parenting priority as ensuring our prodigy are well fed. Some lessons, like teaching them not to bully or washing behind their ears are simpler parenting goals than others. While instilling compassion can be done on a tight budget, not every child has access to the plethora books that are required in order to develop a passion for reading.

This week it was announced that McDonald’s has made some inspired leaps in order to further the literacy of children across Canada. In partnership with Kids Can Press, the world’s largest children’s book publisher, and First Book Canada, who provides access to new books for children in need, McDonald’s is improving accessibility to books for children while encouraging families to spend more time reading together. First step – Happy Meal Books!!

books-in-happy-mealsFirst, they added yogurt and apple slices to the beloved Happy Meal, and now kids are able to choose between a book or a toy in every box. Additionally, the 12 different books have been penned by Canadian authors. Because, well, we are a pretty talented bunch in the true north strong and free! Every eight weeks, two new books will be available in the restaurant, in both English and French for families to enjoy. Titles will include:

  • Franklin the Turtle by Paulette Bourgeois
  • Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
  • The Busy Beaver by Nicolas Oldland
  • No Dragons For Tea by Jean E. Pendziwol
  • Franklin’s Halloween by Paulette Bourgeois
  • Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt
  • Making the Moose Out of Life by Nicolas Oldland
  • Once Upon a Dragon by Jean E. Pendziwol
  • Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt
  • Franklin’s Valentines by Paulette Bourgeois
  • Big Bear Hug by Nicolas Oldland
  • Franklin Plays the Game by Paulette Bourgeois

mcdonalds-shelfieTo help celebrate this exciting launch, on behalf of every Canadian who posts a photo of their bookshelf – a ‘shelfie’ – on social media with the hashtag #OwnaBookGiveaBook and #HappyMealBooks, McDonald’s Canada will donate a book to children in need (up to 20,000 books) through First Book Canada.

jill-amery-antique-booksAs a former McDonald’s Mom, you know I had the opportunity to visit several Ronald McDonald House charities, and along with the other initiatives, McDonald’s will also be installing Little Free Libraries at Ronald McDonald Houses across the country, where Canadians can leave a book and take a new one in return, making books more accessible for Canadian families. Along with signing up to cook dinners for the families in residence and donating unwrapped gifts (for parents as well as kids) over the holiday season, this is another small way you can help.

I was SO excited about this new program for literacy that I dedicated one of our #AnythingCanHappen Thursday Facebook videos to the love of reading.

So will you please join me? Let’s start by posting a shelfie all over social media – I can’t wait to see what you’re reading!

Disclosure: This article was sponsored by McDonald’s Canada. Love of reading and Happy Meals is entirely my own doing, and opinions are my own.