Literacy: A Hard Thing to Do

What appealed to me about his story is that he picked the hard thing to do.

It wasn’t that he had played football at the University of Georgia. Not my team.

It wasn’t that he later played for the New England Patriots. Not my team either.

It was that he found something hard and decided to work at it anyway. And then he did something to encourage others who also find it hard.

Malcolm Mitchell has a Super Bowl ring. But he told CBS News that getting to the big game isn’t his biggest accomplishment. Reading well is. He found reading hard. But he didn’t give up. He just worked harder.

And he didn’t let his image as a star athlete get in his way.

A chance meeting in a Barnes and Noble bookstore enhanced his literary journey. A woman invited him to her book club. It was a club of readers, and he had become a reader.

Nevermind that everyone else in the group was an over forty woman. Malcolm joined anyway.

Malcolm realized when he got to college that his reading skills weren’t what they needed to be for him to succeed as a student. He decided he wouldn’t rest on the laurels of his athletic prowess.

He picked up a book whenever he could.

Then he wrote one. He was still a college student when it was published. The Magician’s Hat encourages young readers to open themselves up to the magic of reading.

Malcolm Mitchell would say, yes, reading is magical. Hard too? Yes, sometimes it is.

But maybe that’s how we find magic. We decide to do the hard thing. And the world opens up to us.

Sadly, Americans are reading fewer books, and the current numbers don’t reflect an earlier decline in the number of us who read books of literature. The downward slide in reading has been steady over decades.

Malcolm Mitchell established the Children’s Literacy Foundation to “introduce book ownership to students in households where reading is not a priority and to improve literacy in schools with below grade-level reading skills.” He still writes books.

He didn’t play on any of my football teams, but go, Malcolm. I’m on your team now. Dust may settle on his Super Bowl ring. But magic will be with him for the rest of his days.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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16 Replies to “Literacy: A Hard Thing to Do”

  1. Good for Malcolm!
    We can also take this a step further . . . even though access to the Bible is at an all-time high, biblical illiteracy is also at an all-time high. May Christians be motivated by Malcolm’s example!

  2. I’ve not read any of Mr. Malcolm’s books but am going to be keeping an eye out for the opportunity. Thank you Ms. Nancy.

  3. Love this, and those last lines gave me chills: Dust may settle on his Super Bowl ring. But magic will be with him for the rest of his days. He has chosen the narrow path, and WOW. What a legacy and a gift.

  4. What an inspirational man and story! When we choose to do the hard thing, the return on investment ends up being worth it. I chatted with some work friends lately who admitted they don’t read as much as they used to. They like audio books and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I recently read that we don’t retain the information as well on audio. Thanks for sharing, Nancy.

    1. An interesting discussion, Karen. I’ve had students do well with audiobooks. Some kids are auditory learners. I encourage some readers, younger ones, to use audio along with visual reading. For those of us who grew up with traditional reading, I agree that audio would probably not be as effective. We tend to multitask with audio–like listening to the radio while doing the dishes. Hence, less retention. Thanks for reading and commenting, Karen. God bless!

  5. So interesting! I hadn’t read this story before, but I love to hear about the priority of reading and the importance of good quality books. There’s a lot of junk out there these days.

  6. A great post! I love reading, but I’ve spent so much time writing blog posts and books that I haven’t been able to bury myself in a long classic, a good book written by someone else. Time to slow down and read.

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