Former New England Patriot And Super Bowl Winner Malcolm Mitchell Champions Literacy And Reading

By Henry Santoro and Marilyn Schairer for wgbh.org

Malcolm Mitchell is a former New England Patriots wide receiver, author and children’s literacy advocate. Although he struggled with reading as a child, he started the Share the Magic foundation in 2016 to teach kids like him to love books. Mitchell talked to GBH Radio’s Henry Santoro about his recent book, My Favorite Book In The Whole Wide World. He also took some time to talk about Super Bowl LV featuring his former teammate Tom Brady. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Henry Santoro: As we head into Super Bowl weekend, the name Malcolm Mitchell should be very familiar to NFL fans and especially New England Patriots fans. As a wide receiver for the Pats, Mitchell helped the Pats win Super Bowl 51 in 2017. Great, great game. But his accolades on the field came long before that, having racked up a number of college football awards. And if you ask him what his greatest achievement is, he won’t say that it’s football or athletics. He’ll tell you with a big smile that it’s reading. We are about to find out why. Malcolm Mitchell, welcome to GBH and welcome to Henry in the Hub and Super Bowl weekend.

Malcolm Mitchell: Hi, I appreciate you having me on today.

Santoro: Your football career really took off when you entered University of Georgia, but there was something that you knew that nobody else did. Upon entering college, you were only reading at middle school level. Now you’ve dedicated your life after football to teaching kids to read and learn about literacy. You did it through your Share the Magic Foundation now. Was there a particular book, an event or a bunch of events that turned this around for you?

Mitchell: I think there were a series of events that let me be more aware of my shortcomings when it came to reading. Simple tasks like grocery shopping or reading subtitles were challenging, and I could not do it with extreme ease. And those were some indications that I needed to work on reading a bit more than I had in the past.

Santoro: It is challenging when you cannot read as well as you should be able to when you’re at the grocery store. Isn’t that right?

Mitchell: I agree 100 percent. I don’t think we think of the small tasks that require reading: daily grocery shopping, reading street signs, reading information, thinking critically. You know, there are a lot of intangibles that are associated with reading that I’m not sure we highlight. But reading definitely plays a part of everyday life.

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