Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Never Mind the Ethics - Get Children Reading

Today we are alarmed at the report in The Bookseller that Kobo and Fast food chain McDonald’s are teaming with, Hodder Children’s Books and National Literacy Trust (NLT) to give away ebooks to children when they buy a Happy Meal Box at the fast food chain.

Every Happy Meal box will come with an e-book voucher, which will allow customers to download a Famous Five book by Enid Blyton from Hodder Children’s Books. This new promotion is in addition to the existing one, where boxes contain one of six of Blyton’s Secret Seven stories and a £1 voucher that is redeemable to buy a Secret Seven or Famous Five book at WHSmith or Eason.

The World Health Organization (WHO) regards childhood obesity as one of the most serious global public health challenges for the 21st century. The latest UK National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) figures, for 2012/13, show that 18.9% of children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) were obese and a further 14.4% were overweight. Of children in Reception (aged 4-5), 9.3% were obese and another 13.0% were overweight. This means almost a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese. Results from the Health Survey for England (HSE), claim that some 28% of children aged 2 to 15 were classed as either overweight or obese. However, it should be noted that imbalanced diet is only one cause of the steep rise in childhood obesity

Early this week we wrote 'Do we continue to have Ketchup on our hands today?' referred to the article on the content of McDonald’s Hamburgers 'Hamburger Chef Jamie Oliver Proves McDonald’s Burgers “Unfit for human consumption”' and questioned the industry’s continual support of promotional the ‘free book’ programmes via McDonalds.

Kobo is probably getting used to controversy.

On a separate ethical note, last month, we raised in our article 'Does Rakuten Deal In Blood eCommerce?' the exposure by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), of Japanese retail giant Rakuten, who own the likes of and ebook operator Kobo. Their report claims that Rakuten is the world’s biggest online marketplace for elephant ivory and whale meat products. 

On a further separate ethical note, last year Kobo, WHSmith's eBooks partner also had to quickly respond to complaints that pornographic e-book material appeared alongside children’s literature on the W H Smith website. Kobo said this was as a result of “a select group of publishers and authors violating the self-publishing policies of our platform". John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee at the time, said it was “it is unacceptable that anyone could access this material within a click of a mouse.”

Some may suggest that the apparent lack of an ethical code by some would lead others to question the true price being adopting in getting people reading.


Brian Clegg said...

I'm really not convinced about this. Either McDonalds is legal or it isn't. If it is, and until it ceases to be, I can't see what's wrong with a trading partnership with it, particularly if it encourages people to read.

You seem to imply that somehow hordes of small children will cry 'I don't like nasty hamburgers, but feed me one so I get my hands on a scrumptious ebook.' I think it's far more likely that children will want a McDonalds whatever accompanies it, but at least the children getting these freebies will have something potentially of value, rather than plastic tat that goes straight to landfill.

opit said...

I started following The Chalk Face and similar because I expect the children to have unnatural difficulty reading ( and recall it was a crime to teach slaves to read ) And why should I suspect this ?