Vikings long snapper Kevin McDermott read to local youth on NFL's "Tackle Reading Across America Day".
SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. –Shortly after returning home from an overseas trip, Kevin McDermott read to Twin Cities youth about international experiences.
As part of "Tackle Reading Across America" Day, McDermott read *Amy's Travels *to a group of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at Kaposia Education Center on Friday. The book was written by Kathryn Starke, who helped start the #TackleReading initiative for classrooms across the country.
McDermott told the young people that reading is a great way to "go places you might never travel on your own" and that it can open the door to new experiences.
The initiative – which more than 20 NFL teams took part in – was celebrated on March 2 in recognition of Dr. Seuss' birthday. Many of the children in attendance wore paper hats modeled after the children's author's most-popular character, The Cat in the Hat.
"It's important to always be in the community and to talk to children about the importance of education. And it's nice to come to an event where it's Dr. Seuss' birthday, so we're celebrating reading, and I'm getting to read to kids of different ages," McDermott said. "I'm just trying to stress the importance of reading and how significant that is to learning at this age.
"I loved shorter books, [including] Dr. Seuss," McDermott added. "You know, I didn't start getting into bigger books until probably third or fourth grade. Right about then was when *Harry Potter *came out, and I remember really getting into that. Reading has been something I've enjoyed my entire life, and I think it's important to [emphasize] it to young kids."
In addition to *Amy's Travels, *McDermott also read *What Gritty Kids Do When No One Is Looking. *In a separate session to kick off the morning, he read Dr. Seuss' *Green Eggs and Ham *to a group of students ages kindergarten through second grade.
Kaposia Principal Terry Bretoi said he was honored to have McDermott reading to the students.
"I think everybody is pretty excited about the success of the Vikings, but even more importantly, to bring successful stories from the outside into schools to show these kids what they can be someday," Bretoi said. "[Kevin's career is] a dream come true, but it doesn't just happen magically."
The #TackleReading event capped off a month-long celebration of reading for Kaposia students.
After McDermott finished reading, he opened it up for a Q&A session and was immediately met with eager arms waving in the air.
The long snapper answered some hard-hitting questions, such as "Why aren't you wearing your helmet," "Do you get scared before games," or, "How many games in the NFL have you played?"
"Sometimes fielding questions from fifth graders is harder than from the beat reporter from the Star Tribune. Just because there's no filter with kids – they'll ask anything," McDermott said with a laugh. "But it's great to hear what they have to say, just talk to them and answer any questions they might have."
The young people, many of whom were decked out in Vikings Purple, also asked him which current teammates attended UCLA with him and if he is friends with the stars of the Minneapolis Miracle, Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs – to which McDermott responded, "I am – they're both very nice people!"
As the morning came to a close, McDermott received lots of applause and cheers, and he reminded the students to keep reading.
"This will stick in their memory – a lot of times, more than a math class or a reading class that happens," Bretoi said. "They'll remember this about this school year and hopefully the message that he delivered – that reading is important, and you need to practice that every single day."
McDermott wasn't the only Vikings player to celebrate Read Across America Day.
In honor of the initiative, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo visited his elementary school on Thursday and read Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go! to a group of students there. Odenigbo posted about the experience on Instagram: