Former NFL player makes reading fun at Essex library
On Thursday, June 29, former wide receiver for the New York Jets and Woodlawn High School alum Tavon Mason visited the Essex branch library to impart his love of reading on the area’s youth.
Every summer, the former footballer travels to local libraries as part of his “Tavon Mason Loves the Kids Reading Program” where he reads his favorite stories and teaches children the importance of education and literacy.
“One of our big initiatives is just to go around and read
to the kids,” he said. “We want to try to make literacy fun again, kids these days don’t want to read books anymore, they just want to...” he said, pantomiming typing on a cellphone.
The children gathered around Mason excitedly as he began to read the first book, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”
“Who here likes to read?” Mason said. He was greeted with a flood of tiny hands shooting up into the air.
In between storytime, Mason would encourage the children, and even some of their parents, to stand up and do some exercises like jumping jacks and sit-ups to shake off their excess energy.
The final book Mason read was his own, “Tavon Does It All.” Featuring a cartoon drawing of Mason, the children’s book was written two years ago after Mason wanted to use his own story to inspire future generations. Inside the book’s cover in a photograph on him in football uniform at Woodlawn High School, an old report card, and a copy of his college diploma.
“I know it’s summer, but school is very important,” he told the intently listening crowd of children.
As a youth advocate, Mason says that parents and teachers have to play a positive role in their children’s’ lives, by supporting them and pushing them to succeed.
“’Dare to be great”’ is the slogan we use at our foundation. I know people say to shoot for the stars, but we want you all to go beyond the stars, no matter what anyone tells you, what they say you can’t do. I didn’t think I’d ever play in the NFL and I made it there, I graduated from college, and I wrote a children’s book.”
Mason created the “Tavon Loves The Kids” Foundation in 2011 with the help of other advocates involved with the Baltimore County Public School system. Along with promoting reading with these reading tours, one of their biggest initiatives is to collect slippers for children in the hospital. Mason has visited several DMV area hospitals this year, surprising the patients with the gifts. Since 2012, the foundation has collected over 2,000 pairs of slippers. They also collect clothing for the Eastern Resource Center and the West Side Men’s Shelter along with toiletries, books, clothing, and food to several women’s shelters.
They also promote causes like reducing childhood obesity and promoting healthy nutrition and outdoor activities.
Mason also visited the Parkville-Carney and Sollers Point library branches last week.
For more information on Tavon Mason Loves the Kids, visit www.tavonmasonlovesthekids.org.