Research shows one in eight families do not own a book and as the UK’s largest distributor of free books, this World Book Day (3 March) McDonald’s is working to correct that. The restaurant company is teaming up with footballers, football clubs, community hubs and charities to get as many books as possible into the hands of families.

This includes partnering with The Raheem Sterling Foundation to donate 1,500 books to his Foundation centres in Manchester and London. McDonald’s is also teaming up with the Premier League Primary Stars campaign and BBC Children in Need to ensure groups, refuges, and community centres all over the UK can provide some of the hardest to reach families access to the joy of reading this World Book Day.

Visitors to the centres will be able to choose between Mr Silly: My Book About Me or There’s A Wolf In My Book by Tom Fletcher, which can also be collected exclusively in store at McDonald’s restaurants.

Clive Ellington, Chair of The Raheem Sterling Foundation says: “Through our work at the Foundation we want to give families resources they may not otherwise have access to, and reading is an important place to start.

“Reading and access to reading for enjoyment is so important, and we have great links to young people in Brent and Manchester to help distribute the books to families within these communities. This is a wonderful initiative to kick-start a promising partnership between McDonald’s and the Raheem Sterling Foundation.”

Louise Page, Head of Brand Communications and Partnerships at McDonalds, says: “Throughout the course of World Book Day, our restaurants and community partners will give out over half a million free books to families. We are so proud to partner with so many fantastic organisations to help distribute books to families across the UK.

“Story time is such an integral part of childhood and as children all over the country celebrate World Book Day in schools and nurseries, we want to ensure as many of them as possible have books at home to enjoy beyond today.”

McDonald’s is continuing its ongoing commitment to children’s literacy this year, by giving families and communities across the UK and Ireland access to more free books than ever. This marks the fourth year that McDonald’s has partnered with World Book Day, and the tenth anniversary of the Happy Readers scheme, which has seen over 110 million books given away in the UK.

This year, three is the magic number with up to three free books up for grabs. Families can choose between Mr Silly: My Book About Me, or There’s A Wolf In My Book by Tom Fletcher as well as receiving a free book with every Happy Meal thanks to the existing Book or Toy promotion – meaning families can walk out of restaurants with two books in hand to explore straight away. Plus, there will be a £1 token on every Happy Meal box (from 2–15 March), to help children continue their reading journey beyond World Book Day.

Reading for pleasure is the biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. However, it is in decline and at its lowest level since 2005. McDonald’s is on a mission to change this and help bring books to children who need them the most.

The Raheem Sterling Foundation looks to improve social mobility, further education, and empowerment in young people who may face challenges to reach their full potential, with a focus on seven key areas: education, employment, enterprise, creativity, personal development, accountability, and social mobility.

McDonald’s will also be donating thousands of books to 71 football clubs across the country so that wider communities can have invaluable, free access to reading resources. The books will be donated by Club Community Organisations to local schools as part of the Premier League Primary Stars campaign – a national curriculum-linked education programme that works with Premier League and professional football clubs to inspire children to learn, be active and develop important life skills.