Reading is Fundamentally for People Who Don’t Eat at McDonald’s

Oh, New York Times. You never fail to pass up a chance to be snooty.

Recent case in point, a recent post on the Motherlode blog, about RIF’s partnership with McDonald’s:

Starting on Friday, McDonald’s plans to give away 20 million books in its Happy Meals over a two-week period, while giving another 100,000 books to children nationwide through a partnership with the nonprofit organization Reading Is Fundamental, commonly known as RIF. McDonald’s would prefer that we focus on the positives of its campaign: RIF’s website notes that two-thirds of children living in poverty have no books at home, and 80 percent of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children.

You can probably guess that the Motherlode blogger is against it: “some of those households and classrooms will now have one or two books written in committee at a marketing agency, offering not just reading material, but a brand impression every time a child sees or reads them.” She concludes: “Children may pick up the book and clamor for a trip to McDonald’s. But what if, instead, they see McDonald’s — and clamor for a chance to read the book? It’s probably too much to hope that the result will be trips to the library rather than the drive-through. But I’m not sure I blame RIF for trying. Do you?”

I tried to leave a comment, but my response apparently didn’t make it past the NYT’s moderation queue. No matter.

Julian has one of these books, and yes, it’s from a trip to McDonald’s. I don’t know about you, but we’ve had two kids now, and there seems to be nothing more frenzied and harried than the last week or two before the baby’s due. On one such crazy-ass day, we took Julian to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. En route home, he had a bit of a meltdown, Jen was aching, and we were all hungry. McD was the expedient choice. It was also the first day of the RIF partnership.

This wasn’t Julian’s first RIF book, though. His first was Curious George, which he won because we had checked out four books for him that day, from McDonald’s. No, wait, McDonald’s doesn’t check out books to adults and kids. What does? Oh yes, the library.

The library. Unfortunately, right after my son got that book, the library discontinued its RIF programs for lack of funding.

That’s Brooklyn, by the way, right here in the Times’s backyard. Of course, the Times can’t be bothered to pay much attention to any parts of Brooklyn that aren’t Williamsburg and Brooklyn Heights, but whatever. If RIF can’t get into libraries, for Pete’s sake, how can the Times fault them for getting into a fast-food restaurant!?

What really offends me about the Times piece, though, is this assumption: “It’s probably too much to hope that the result will be trips to the library rather than the drive-through.”

I’m Michael Dietsch, father. I take my son to the library AND I take him to McDonald’s. According to the Times, though, I don’t exist.

Will someone please tell my aching back that it doesn’t exist, so I can get more rest tonight?

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