CANDLER CO., GA (WTOC) - Middle School students in Metter got the chance to meet an author who is as well-known on the football field as he is in a bookstore.
Malcolm Mitchell visited students to inspire them to look at reading as more than an assignment. Mitchell went into the classroom as excited as if he was playing in another Super Bowl. The New England Patriot and former Georgia Bulldog talked to students about when he developed the passion for reading that prompted him to write his own children's book.
"Reading changed my life, no doubt about it. If anybody says they like me or love me, it's because of books," Mitchell said.
Youngsters listened as Mitchell described his early struggles at school, mainly from reading. He described his work at reading like his work on the gridiron to become better and learn the skills he needed. He told the middle schoolers he was in their shoes not that long ago.
"I'm not that much older than you, honestly, so whatever you're going through, I know. Whatever you're sitting there thinking, I know," he told them.
Teachers say students have wanted to meet him since they heard about him in August.
"Instead of focusing on the negative, he's showing our kids how to be a reading ambassador in a good outlet or something after school, like mentoring younger students," said Jennifer Lewis, Metter Middle School.
Mitchell says reading serves as a map to the world and beyond.
"I haven't found one negative effect of reading," he said. "I 'haven't."
He hopes his book, as well as his story, can help children for generations to come.
The school applied for and got a grant that brought Mitchell to the school and provided a copy of his new book to every middle school student.