I have always had a very soft spot for Roald Dahl books, and it was receiving a gift of The Twits that sealed the deal when I was in primary school. It was Dahl who got me hooked as a child on reading as from The Twits I went on to quickly devour everything that was available by him and count The Witches and The BFG as two of my favourite books of all time to this day.
There are many joys of parenting (and a whole heap of anti-joys too) but one of them is revisiting the books I loved as a tousle-haired child with my own little ones. I do what I can to encourage my children to read and I am proud to say that they do work their way through books at a decent rate, in between watching Minecraft videos by Stampy!
All credit then to McDonald’s who are back with another Happy Readers campaign and this time it centres around some of the incredible characters that Roald Dahl dreamt up. The campaign kicked off on Roald Dahl Day earlier this month and features eight specially created books that celebrate the key players from Matilda, The BFG and the main protagonists from Charlie & The Chocolate factory.
The campaign runs over a five week period through to mid-October and McDonald’s are expecting to place over 11,000,000 books into children’s hands through this time! This exclusive series of books feature extracts from the main stories, as well as activities and stickers and are really lovely collector’s pieces for Roald Dahl fans (of any age!).
One book is included in each Happy Meal at McDonald’s until mid October.
For me, the magic of Roald Dahl was the way he managed to see a grown up world through a child’s eyes and centring the books around clever, brave, resourceful, yet kind and honest child characters helped to teach me that knowledge and courage count for a heck of a lot in life. I remember going through something of a literary graduation when I moved on from the ‘child’ stories he wrote and read his two part autobiography for the first time. These books are called ‘Boy’ and ‘Going Solo’; the former being about his childhood and the latter about his adult years with a centre on his brave (yet modestly told) actions as a WWII pilot in the RAF.
They were written in a way that is ageless and were the first autobiography books I ever read. I am not a fan of autobiographies (or biographies) and generally steer away from them but Dahl’s are incredible whether you are a child or an adult reading them and you can sense the inspiration for his great books through his own adventures.
Dahl was a modest, yet incredible man and we lost a true great when he passed away in 1990 and the world has shone a little duller since. Sure, some great authors have since produced some great children’s books (special mention to J K Rowling) but the almost fairly-tale like warmth, magic and wonder that Dahl produced with ease through his life will never be captured by anyone else.
We are fortunate then that he was so prolific in his life and that as parents today we are part of the first generations that will enjoy his work as children, parents and eventually as grandparents as we will see Dahl’s world through our own eyes and those of our children and grandchildren.
To help inspire parents to bring children into the magic of books there is a page of tips for reading with children in each of these books by the National Literacy Trust, and I will share them now as they are all excellent:
- Bring the story to life by using different voices for the characters. Try out a pompous tone for Augustus, or a high, whiny voice for Veruca.
- Make your child the author! Stop at exciting moments in the story and ask your child to invent what happens next.
- Make reading with your child a special time for you both every day.
- Children of all ages love to hear stories read aloud.
- Don’t stop reading to your children just because they can read by themselves.
- Let your child help choose the books that you’ll read together. If your child is excited by the subject, the story will hold their interest better.
Along with Penguin Random House Children’s UK, Peter Andre (great video here) and the Roald Dahl Literary Estate, the National Literacy Trust are partners with McDonald’s for this current Roald Dahl happy Readers campaign, and I particularly liked a quote I read by one of the NLT Directors, Jonathan Douglas:
“A love of reading gives children the building blocks they need to succeed at school, in work and in life. Sharing stories together as a family is a wonderful way to help children develop a love of reading, especially when you’re sharing the marvellous and magical stories of Roald Dahl! We’re thrilled to be part of this campaign which will give so many children brilliant reading material to keep. For many children this will be the first book they have ever owned. We hope the campaign will encourage children across the UK to fall in love with reading for a lifetime.”
Remember to pop out the voucher on your child’s Happy Meal box to get Roald Dahl’s ‘The Great Mouse Plot’, for £1 at WHSmith or Easons (Northern Ireland) high street stores. The eBook will also be available for you to download for free from kobo.com , using the eCode printed on the Happy Meal box.
As I said at the start of this post, it was a Roald Dahl book that made me fall in love with reading and since then I would guess that I have enjoyed over 850 books (averaging 2 books a month for the 36 years since I was a 6 year old!)…that was some gift; one that truly kept on giving.
Grab these exclusive Roald Dahl editions while you can in McDonald’s restaurants for the next few weeks and hopefully the new worlds they discover will take them on their own bookish adventures.
Find out much more over at mcdonalds.co.uk/happymeal.
NB: This is a sponsored post but all opinions and views are my own