Henry Winkler’s “Happy Days” character The Fonz may have jumped the shark long ago, but the actor-turned-children’s author is still starring in prime time when it comes to promoting literacy.
The BBC reported that Winkler was in London last week to accept an honor from Britain’s National Literacy Trust. He was named a “Literacy Hero” for “turning a generation of children into readers.” Winkler was the only American among the 10 recipients of the honor.
The remaining honorees were “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling and eight other British citizens. Among them were a pupil who overcame learning issues to become a school library champion, a high school student who made amazing achievements with English as a second language, a librarian who helps disadvantaged youth with their literacy, a Romany author and storyteller who improves literacy among Traveler students, and a prisoner who started a project for incarcerated fathers to record themselves reading stories for their children.
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust said Winkler and the other winners had “made inspiring and significant strides to improve their own literacy or create positive opportunities for others.”
The British public submitted hundreds of nominations for the contest, which was launched by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the charity’s patron. A panel of judges comprised of bestselling British authors chose Winkler, who overcame his own dyslexia to go on to write the popular “Hank Zipzer” series of children’s novels about a boy with dyslexia.
This is not the first time Winkler has been honored by Britain for his contributions to literacy. In 2011, he was made an Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the Queen for his services to children with dyslexia and special needs education.
In a photo with the Duchess of Cornwall at the December 3 “Literary Heroes” awards ceremony at Clarence House, Winkler indicated it was indeed a happy day for him by giving a Fonz-like thumbs-up.