McDonald's will be trading the toys for a more literary alternative as the company distributes 800,000 Roald Dahl books over the next six weeks.

As part of its Happy Meal Readers programme, the company will distribute Dahl's Fantabulous BFG, Lucky Charlie Bucket, Brave Little Sophie, Wonderful Willy Wonka, Marvellous Miss Honey and Matilda in Happy Meals.

Each of the books will feature the iconic illustrations of Quentin Blake as well as extracts from the author's famous titles.

Over the past decade McDonald's New Zealand has offered a number of ranges of books in place of toys, and in 2017 books were permanently added as an option in place of a toy.

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After distributing the 800,000 Roald Dahl books, McDonald's would have provided more than 3 million books in New Zealand and close to 450 million books globally.

"The Happy Meal Readers programme is all about helping parents to get their children to enjoy reading," said Jo Mitchell, director of marketing at McDonald's New Zealand.

"The Roald Dahl characters are ones that many parents will have enjoyed growing up, and it's great to play a part in introducing them to a new generation."

The initiative follows a 2016 survey from The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, which found that many Kiwi adults could not read at a day-to-day functioning level. The survey also found a worrying drop in the literacy rate among primary school aged children.

Read more:
Talking Point: Why are NZ's literacy results so appalling?

According to the study, New Zealand ranks 33rd in literacy rates - a significant fall from first place in 1970.

The McDonald's campaign previously ran in the UK, with the company distributing 14 million books over a six-week period.

Distribution schedule for Roald Dahl books:

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• 24 January to 30 January: Roald Dahl's Fantabulous BFG
• 31 January to 6 February: Roald Dahl's Amazing Matilda
• 7 February to 13 February: Roald Dahl's Lucky Charlie Bucket
• 14 February to 20 February: Roald Dahl's Brave Little Sophie
• 21 February to 27 February: Roald Dahl's Wonderful Mr Willy Wonka
• 28 February to 6 March: Roald Dahl's Marvellous Miss Honey