Malcolm Mitchell Shares How He Became a Lifelong Reader

Zakiya Jamal  //  Nov 23, 2020

Malcolm Mitchell Shares How He Became a Lifelong Reader

There are plenty of specific books we're thankful for, but we're also grateful for our love of reading in general. However, reading doesn't come easy to everyone and some people don't love it at first.

In this personal blog post, Super Bowl champion and literacy cursader Malcolm Mitchell shares the story of how he developed a love for reading. Learn about his reading journey below, and discover the important lessons he picked up along the way.

Welcome to the true story of my life as a reader.

When I was a kid, reading was my biggest challenge. It was the thing that scared me the most, because it was such a struggle. In school, when we were asked to do what was called “round-robin” read alouds, my worst nightmare was listening to each student read, knowing my turn was coming. As the book’s passage made its way toward me, my hands would get clammy and my armpits would sweat. Then my heart pounded like a nervous drum.

Nothing felt lonelier than being the kid in class who couldn’t read well. Deep down inside, I knew I was as smart as everyone else. I also knew that I really liked stories and the pictures that go with them in some books.

Fortunately, through athletic scholarships and people who believed in me, I was able to go to college. That’s where my reading struggles really showed themselves. Trips to the grocery store were stressful because there was so much reading involved in the simple act of buying food. I would misread labels and grab the wrong items. oNce, I picked up applesauce thinking it was apple slices. I didn’t notice my mistake until i got home, realizing that it was my inability to understand the differences in the label wording that caused the mistake.

Mishaps like that kept happening. And they showed me that I needed to make an important decision. I wanted to be a better version of me, which meant becoming a stronger reader. I began by practicing reading as much as I practiced football. This meant working at reading just as hard as I worked at sports. The whole thing felt impossible at times. Thankfully, I was surrounded by many caring, patient adults who matured me into a reader, especially my mom, who, in my eyes, is a superstar. Mom and others helped me understand that there’s no such thing as a “bad” reader. They showed me that my reading struggles weren’t my fault and didn’t make me a bad person. It’s just the way my brain is wired. I sometimes have trouble with the words on the page.

This was all very important for me to come to believe—that I’m not good or bad because of how I read. I also figured out that comparing my way of reading to other people’s is a waste of time. It’s like comparing my name or my smile with someone else’s. These are the things that make me who I am, and that makes me special. 

More about My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World:

Meet Henley, an all-around good kid, who hates to read. When he's supposed to be reading, he would rather do anything else. But one day, he gets the scariest homework assignment in the world: find your favorite book to share with the class tomorrow.

What's a kid to do? How can Henley find a story that speaks to everything inside of him?

Malcolm Mitchell, best-selling author of The Magician's Hat, pulls from his own literary triumph to deliver another hilarious and empowering picture book for readers of all abilities.Through his advocacy and his books, Malcolm imparts the important message that every story has the potential to become a favorite.

More about Malcolm Mitchell and Share the Magic/Read with Malcolm:

Author and Super Bowl Champion Malcolm Mitchell considers a love of reading to be one of his greatest achievements. In 2016, he founded Share the Magic Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of reading and book ownership, especially among striving and below grade-level readers who are at risk of academic failure.  The Foundation’s Read with Malcolm literacy initiatives are aimed at inspiring positive attitudes towards reading through in-school programs and national reading challenges. To date, Share the Magic Foundation has distributed over 50,000 books and served over 213,000 students through its Read with Malcolm literacy programs.  To learn more about Malcolm's vision to change children’s lives through literacy, please visit