I’m going to admit something to you all that might not make me very popular around here.
I grew up in Boston and lived there until my husband’s work took us to Northern Virginia in 2005. I love the Celtics. I cried when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. And I am a massive New England Patriots fan.
I don’t care that everyone who isn’t a Patriots fan ABSOLUTELY DESPISES the Patriots. They’re my team and they always have been. The fact that they’re on a run to go to their 8th Super Bowl in the past 16 years is just an added bonus.
Malcolm Mitchell is one of my all time favorite Patriots. His story is great: raised by a single mom, he worked hard at football and got himself to the University of Georgia. But when he got there, he questioned why he was only reading at a Junior High level. To him, football had come naturally, but school work had always been a challenge for him. So he made a promise to himself to improve his literacy skills.
And so he read. And he read. One day, he was walking around Barnes & Nobel looking for a new book to read, and he approached an older woman who was picking up a copy of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. He asked her for some book recommendations, she told him about her book club’s selection for the month, and he asked if he could join the book club — a group made up of suburban moms and grandmothers who had no idea who he was or that he was a big deal at UGA. She agreed and he showed up to the next meeting.
Soon, he was a regular at their monthly meetings. Even after being drafted by the Patriots, he still participated by reading the books and sending his thoughts via text. And when he won his first Super Bowl last year, he made sure to give a shout out to his book club friends.
And now, Malcolm Mitchell is a published children’s author. Building upon his personal mantra, that “the only boundaries are those we create for ourselves,” Mitchell figured that this was the next logical step for him.
The Magician’s Hat is for younger kids, but the message inside is for anyone who loves reading.
A local library has a big reading festival and invites a wonderful magician to come and perform for the kids. He does some cool tricks with coins and spoons and dazzles the crowd. And then he takes off his enormous, magical hat, and asks a little girl to come up on stage with him. He asks her what she dreams of being when she grows up, and she tells him that she dreams of being a dentist. When she reaches into the hat, she pulls out a beautiful book about teeth! The next kid has a dream of becoming a great football player, and when he reaches into the hat, he pulls out a book about football that teaches him how to play, how to win, and how to lose with grace.
The last boy doesn’t believe that the hat is magical. And he tries to trick the magician by telling him that he dreams of being a dog when he grows up. But instead he pulls out an amazing book about space. The magician tells him,
Sometimes, you must really reach and stretch for what you want to be. That’s part of the MAGIC.
Because, of course, the boy really wanted to be an astronaut. The boy is amazed and realizes that anything you dream can be found in a book.
The desires that are within you bring out the magic in these books. Follow your dreams and they will take you wherever you want to go.
That’s a message for kids that I can get behind.
I’m glad that we have young athletes like Malcolm Mitchell out there who can be role models for our kids. And I’m glad that those ladies in Georgia found a place for him in their book club.