Former NFL player Malcolm Mitchell encourages kids to read through the summer

Kids encouraged to read through the summer with Malcolm Mitchell's reading camp

ATLANTA — You’ve probably heard the term “summer slide” referring to a slide backward in skills that many children make during the months when school is out, especially when it comes to reading.

Former NFL player Malcolm Mitchell knows firsthand just how important a skill reading is.

“Growing up I wasn’t an avid reader. I excelled in sports but being a good athlete isn’t being the best person you can possibly be,” said Mitchell NFL retiree and founder of Share the Magic Foundation.

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Since graduating from the University of Georgia in 2016, he’s talked openly about his personal struggle with literacy.

“When I began to read the world opened up,” said Mitchell. “It helped me expand and be an overall better person.”

Now as a published children’s author, he’s created Share the Magic Foundation. The nonprofit focuses on growing young readers in undeserved communities.

This year, the foundation’s new “Read Camp” hopes to encourage students to tackle a good book.

We aligned it with sort of like a training camp which you would see for NFL football or college football,” said Anne Sappe, director of Share the Magic Foundation. “'Read Camp’ is really focused on reading sustainability, improving your endurance your skills throughout the summer. It was designed to beat the summer slide.”

Sappe said on average students lose 30-40% of what they learned over summer, and experts worry the COVID-19 crisis could make this summer’s slide even worse.

“So it’s really important this year more than ever that we continue to drive home the importance of literacy and introduce books into those low-income communities,” said Mitchell.

The free camp encourages students to keep reading with training, drills, and personal challenges. Students can find a “virtual playbook” online that shows their game plan for success.

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