New England Patriots' Malcolm Mitchell releases new picture book
Malcolm Mitchell’s last football game was the 2017 Super Bowl, when, in his rookie season, he helped the New England Patriots’ epic comeback over the Falcons to win Super Bowl LI. Then, injury after injury sidelined his football career, but his story doesn’t end there. Mitchell is also a poet, an author, and the founder of an initiative called Read with Malcolm, which introduces book ownership to students, and works to improve literacy in schools. We caught up with the former wide receiver, who just released his second children’s book, “My Very Favorite Book In The Whole Wide World.”
Tell us about your passion for literacy. It started when you realized you weren’t a strong reader yourself and wanted to work on this area of your life?
I realized I was not a strong reader as a student at the University of Georgia. One of my peers was asked to read aloud during our English 1102 course. Her reading reminded me of poetry, music and grace. I knew my reading abilities were inferior. That realization combined with struggles to read labels at the grocery stores and subtitles during movies was enough for me to commit to making a change.
How did you overcome your struggles with reading?
I started with what I believed to be the fundamentals, practicing reading as much as I practice football. I always had a book on me and read every free moment I could find. I started the process with picture books, jotting down sentence structure and vocabulary words along the way.
How did you come to start your youth literacy initiative?
Share the Magic Foundation and its Read with Malcolm Literacy Initiatives was created once I realized there are millions of kids around the world who struggle with reading just as I did, and who did not understand the benefits of being literate, just as I did not. I wanted to help kids discover and embrace this joy and asset that I found. I started by giving away books and promoting a literate lifestyle.
In 2016 you published “The Magician’s Hat,” and you just released your second children’s book, “My Very Favorite Book In The Whole Wide World.” Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?
My books are a mix of my personal experiences and a place I like to call electric playground land, a fictional place my mind travels to find ideas.
What’s your favorite children’s book?
“Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading “The Midnight Library,” “Half Broken Horse,” and “Forged by Reading.”
What do you hope to accomplish through Read with Malcolm and as a literacy advocate?
There are 11.8 million kids in our country living in poverty without a single age-appropriate book. I can testify to this because I was one of those kids. Not because I didn’t have a loving mother and grandmother, but those were the cards we were dealt. Not having a book is a crime, and we can rectify this issue by aiming to get a book into the hands of every child that can’t afford one.
What kind of advice would you give to a kid who has some of the same struggles that you’ve had?
I understand some words are too big, some sentences are too long and some books are too thick. Keep trying and it will get easier, keep reading so you have the best chance at being the best you.