Literacy remains a crucial issue in the United States and making it easier for children to have access to books provides a significant impact on society. One study found that in middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 13 books per child; in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is one book for every 300 children.
To increase children’s access to books, McDonald’s USA will have distributed more than 50 million books to children by the end of 2016, which is enough to provide a book to every child in America under the age of 12.
In 2015, the first year McDonald’s partnered with HarperCollins, 15.3 million Happy Meal Books were distributed to kids through sales and donations – enough to provide a book to 1 in 5 American children.
The program, which debuted in 2013 and has distributed 32.5 million books in the U.S. through sales and donations, will also distribute Spanish-language books in restaurants that have identified as predominantly Hispanic. The Spanish-language books that will be part of the Happy Meal include “El Gato Pete”, “Simón Tiburón Encuentra un Corazón” and “¡Feliz día de San Valentín, Ratón!”
Through the Happy Meal Books program, McDonald’s is able to help meet a critical need for many families, becoming one of the largest distributors of children’s books in the United States.
Here are a few key statistics about literacy in the Latino community:
- 93 million adults in the U.S. read at or below the basic level needed to contribute successfully to society.
- 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
- Latino children tend to lag behind their non-Latino white classmates in early language, literacy, and mathematics.
- At the start of kindergarten, Latino children are less likely to recognize all 26 letters of the alphabet (27% vs 41% for white children); to count to 20 (57% vs. 72% for white children); to write their names (51% vs. 63% for white children); and to read words in a book (19% vs. 20% for white children).
- Today, roughly one in four children entering kindergarten in the United States is of Hispanic or Latino origin.