Are you familiar with the phrase: “There is no such thing as a free lunch”? It is the notion that something always comes at a cost, whether it is hidden or apparent, the individual or society at large always pays the bill. This phrase came to me as I was reading how Detroit Public Library in the USA, and McDonald’s have joined forces to get little kiddies to read more! And how do these two institutions propose to do this: well, every time a kid checks out a book, they get a stamp in a little McDonald’s bookmark by the sweet librarian, and for every five stamps (that is every 5th checked out book) the critter gets a Happy Meal. I’m sorry, a-what-now? Is the situation in Detroit really sooo bad, that the public library feels the need to take up with a major fast food chain that deals in fats, sugars and every known additive known and unknown to the masses, subverting nutritional values and blurring the lines between profit-business and communal enterprises, in order to get kids to read a book or two? Do they not see the blatant ironic twist to their plan?
How is it that the gatekeepers of knowledge are being reduced to check out clerks for burger joints? And how on EARTH (pardon, getting worked up here) is it remotely a good idea for the child’s mental nourishment to link the joy of reading with a Happy Meal at your local McD? I can absolutely see the win-win-win situation for McDonald’s, but I simply can’t get my head around why, oh WHY, a library would sink so low to get a reading audience. Do more active field work, for god’s sake! Educate and involve parents, introduce children to literature with active involvement, don’t send them down fatty, mind-droning, brainwashed lane!
I find this piece of information truly disturbing, borderline ridiculous. Imagine going to your dentist, getting your dental exam only to whip out the coupon for your very own free gallon of Coke, and have him stamp it (for all your hard work in the chair!).
Reading is a very complex cognitive process, that requires awareness and interpretation, fast food dulls your senses. I weep, truly…
So you tell me, would you send your kid down to the library with his/her own McDonald’s punch-card and rest easy in the fact that, ‘at least she/he is reading’? Is the lunch worth it?