Excerpts from Roald Dahl books will appear on tens of millions of cereal boxes over the next few weeks as part of an ambitious attempt to encourage more children to read.
The publisher has realised that children, from even before the age they can read, pick up cereal boxes from the breakfast table and scan the back for games and information. By replacing the games and adverts with an excerpt from a book, it hopes to spark an interest in literature.
The innovation is being pioneered by Puffin, which has struck a deal with the estate of Roald Dahl, the much loved children's author, and Asda, the supermarket. The excerpts from The Witches; The Twits, The BFG; Danny, the Champion of the World and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will appear on at least ten million boxes of cereal sold in Asda over the next few weeks. They will appear on the back of all of the supermarket's own-brand children's cereals, such as rice pops, frosted flakes and honey hoops.
The extracts are only a couple of hundreds of words long, but Francesca Dow, the managing director of Penguin's children books, which owns Puffin, said she hoped many would be intrigued enough to track down the whole book after reading the boxes: "The great thing about a cereal box, is that it potentially is reaching millions of households that just don't read any literature outside of school.
"There could be an enormous number of children discovering Roald Dahl for the first time, bleary eyed over the breakfast table."
They have chose extracts that are "the most immediately exciting bit, something that plunges you straight into the story," she said.
In total 127 million boxes of children's cereal are sold in Britain every year and Puffin is keen to work with other supermarkets and other authors. It also publishes the popular books by Jeremy Strong and the Artemis Fowl series of books.
Ms Dow added: "There is a real awareness in the publishing world that there is an increasingly tight competition for children's time, especially from digital activities such as games consoles, as they grow up. And combine that with anxieties about school budgets being cut and libraries closing and we need to find different ways to get books in front of children, especially children growing up in households that don't read."
A survey of 8 to 12 year olds conducted by Asda found that, while 78 per cent chose watching television as their favourite after-school activity and 69 per cent chose video games, 40 per cent chose reading.
A recent report from ChildWise found that children now spend an average of an hour and 50 minutes online and two hours and 40 minutes in front of the television every day.