Background image of Sanford Stadium via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday morning, thanks to a partnership between Read with Malcolm and Books For Keeps, ALL 90 our first grade students received their very own copies of Malcolm Mitchell’s book The Magician’s Hat:

Magician's Hat
Image from the University of Georgia Bookstore (click to visit)

Our first grade teachers kept everything top secret, so the students didn’t know what was going to happen when they came into the library. They only knew that a very special surprise had been planned for them!

I started by sharing background information about Malcolm Mitchell’s childhood, his football career at the University of Georgia, his growth and determination as a reader, and his inspiration to become a writer. Many students made connections to his family’s hardships and his academic struggles, and they were entranced by his transformation from struggling student to published author!

After this introduction, I read the book out loud to them, and the kids LOVED it.

read with malcolm - me reading
Image courtesy of Leslie Hale & Books for Keeps

Incorporating a lovely mix of realism, humor, and a little bit of magic, this story about the power of reading ends with a simple but eloquent message:

“Follow your dreams, and they will take you wherever you want to go.”

Then it was time for the big reveal. Our special guest, Books for Keeps Executive Director Leslie Hale, unveiled the stack of books and help me distribute them to the students, who eagerly cracked them open to see the words and pictures up close!

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One little girl came back to the the library afterwards with her mentor, and they read the book together over and over.

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Yesterday evening, several different first grade parents shared with me how excited their children had been about the book and Malcolm Mitchell’s story. My biggest hope is that this enthusiasm will continue as our students read, learn, and grow.

Thanks so much again to Read with Malcolm and Books For Keeps for giving our first graders this wonderful experience!

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Oh, and if you’d like to read more about Malcolm Mitchell’s story, here are some great articles that I read as I prepared for our big event: