By Seth Daniel
When Malcolm Mitchell, the impressive rookie wide receiver for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, was having trouble with reading in school, he came home and complained to his mother about it.
The talented athlete continued his rant while his mother put three pots on the stove to a boil.
In one, she put a carrot. In another, an egg. In the third, she put coffee beans.
Then she waited.
He asked her, ‘What in the world are you doing?’
“I remember she told me that the carrot, egg and coffee beans all were facing the same challenge, which was the boiling water,” Mitchell told a wide-eyed assembly of Berkowitz School students last Thursday, March 23, during a special assembly. “She told me that despite the challenge, they all came out differently. The carrot was hard and it turned soft. The egg was soft and it turned hard. However, the coffee beans were not changed by the water; the water was changed by the coffee beans. For me, reading was my challenge. However, I was like the carrot and the egg, soft and fragile. I realized right there that for me to play football, go to college and play football in the NFL and in the Super Bowl, I needed to be able to read better. So, I kept practicing and practicing until I got better, just like in football. One day, I did get better.”
That was one of many delightful stories shared by the Super Bowl champion receiver on Thursday, who came to the school to stress the importance of reading and to read his own children’s book, ‘The Magician’s Hat,’ along with hundreds of kids from the Berkowitz School.
With ESPN crews following him for a documentary film, Mitchell shared that he hated reading as a kid growing up in Savannah, GA, and he hated it while in college. It wasn’t until a teacher at the University of Georgia shared a ‘Harry Potter’ book with him that he realized the “magic” of reading.
He said he was reading the book, and he got hooked in. After some time immersed in the pages, he realized he needed to leave for class. Once outside, though, he felt different. He realized that the book had transported him to another place, and that reading was a way to see different things and experience new places.
“As I walked there, I felt everything was different,” he said. “I still felt like I was in the book. I suddenly understood that reading could take me to another place and let me experience something completely new and different. Reading isn’t just about looking at a bunch of words; it’s a magical experience.”
That experience prompted him to want to write ‘The Magician’s Hat’ so that young people like the kids at the Berkowitz School would be motivated to learn about the way reading can transform them the way it did for him.
“Reading was hard for me, and maybe it’s hard for you too,” he said. “But I want to encourage you that through reading you can accomplish all your goals because I can tell you that I did.”
Mitchell also brought some entertainment as well in the form of a magician.
Accompanying him to the Berkowitz School was New England Patriot Team Magician, John Logan.
Logan is the official magician of the Patriots and often entertains them in the locker room and at team functions. His tricks have become really popular with the players, and they were even more popular with the Berkowitz students last Thursday.
Logan was able to turn a glass of orange juice into a whole orange – on the top of student Brianna Maldonado’s head.
Following the magic show, Mitchell read the book aloud to the students while they followed along with their own brand new copies of ‘The Magician’s Hat.’
After the book, Mitchell took several questions varying from whether or not he played basketball (he did) to how it felt in the locker room of the Super Bowl at halftime.
He ended the assembly by giving about 1,000 high fives and talking to hundreds of the kids.
Principal Adam Deleidi thanked Teacher Kayla Andrews, who was able to set up the event for the school.