John L. Maddox, Haverhill Public Schools’ pediatrician; New England Patriots’ wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell; and Superintendent James F. Scully. (Photographs by Gene Fontaine.)
To showcase the revamped Tilton School library and highlight youth literacy, New England Patriots’ wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell read to first graders Wednesday.
Mitchell, who has championed youth literacy efforts through his Read With Malcolm website, read from his “The Magician’s Hat.” John L. Maddox, Haverhill Public Schools’ pediatrician, explained to students why reading is important.
“Making sure kids are reading at grade level is one of the most important ways to break the cycle of poverty. The child who is not reading at grade level is more likely to drop out of school, to become a pregnant teen, to commit crimes, to be unemployed, to be dependent on society rather than contributing. This affects all of us,” Maddox said.
Maddox led the library effort last June by donating $50,000 from his family’s New Mexico-based J. F Maddox Foundation. A matching amount came from the city.
Mitchell told students about his own difficulty learning to read.
“I wasn’t a great ready. I was actually scared to read. But I learned, when I got to college, in order to best person I could possibly be, in order for me to reach my full potential, in order for me to graduae from college, in order for me to play football, in order for me to be part of the NFL and a Super Bowl-winning team, I needed to read. Because, to succeed, you have to read.”
Mitchell read from his book, which features David, the Magician—someone whose favorite trick is not pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but helping children discover the magical power of books.
Each Tilton student and every first grader in the school district will receive a copy of Malcolm’s book, Maddox said.
Maddox is a native of New Mexico, but his wife is a Haverhill native. Part of his grant was also used to purchase books, audiobooks and technology.