JACKSON COUNTY - Jackson County elementary school students in grades three, four and five will have a special “back-to-school” treat tomorrow (Friday, August 22), when nearly 50 volunteers flood the classrooms to read books from the Hank Zipzer series in preparation for a visit on October 16 by nationally acclaimed actor and author Henry Winkler.
“We are so happy you will be using the Hank Zipzer books in your classroom,” Winkler and co-author Lin Oliver wrote in a letter to the teachers. “Writing these books has been a pleasure for us, a true work of the heart, and we hope you feel our enthusiasm on every page.”
Our Community’s Foundation, which is hosting Winkler’s visit, secured 47 volunteers enough to have one in each third, fourth and fifth elementary classroom on the same day to introduce the Hank Zipzer series and a “Hooked on Hank” county-wide reading program. Winkler will address Jackson County students in those same grades on October 16 and then make a public appearance for the Jackson County Community Foundation Benefit that evening at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Millwood.
The evening event, sponsored by the Dickirson Corporation, is likely to be a sellout, said Jane Winters, Regional Affiliates Manager for Our Community’s Foundation. Tickets are nearly gone for the annual Jackson County Community Foundation Celebration Benefit.
There are 17 books in the Hank Zipzer series, beginning with “Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Under-Achiever.” The books were inspired by Winkler’s struggle through his life with dyslexia, which was not diagnosed until he was in his thirties.

“A primary intent of our books is to offer a totally enjoyable reading experience to children,” Winkler and Oliver wrote to the teachers. “The other purpose of our books is to illustrate to children that the world is theirs, that they can achieve their dreams and overcome any obstacle in their path. Through persistence, positivity and a strong support group of friends and family, Hank’s journey is ultimately successful. If he can do it, you can – that’s the attitude we hope our readers will take away.”
Winkler has said the books, which he began writing in 2003, give him his greatest source of pride and accomplishment. And while Winkler is beloved by all as “The Fonz” from the popular TV series “Happy Days,” it is his intellectual accomplishments that will be the focus during his first visit to West Virginia.
Teachers involved in the reading day August 22nd are planning other activities, as well, to further familiarize students with Hank Zipzer and encourage reading. Activities range from creating a “wax museum” of Hank Zipzer characters who then talk to viewers about their roles and experiences to a friendly competition among classes to accumulate the most time spent reading the books.

“Hank is a boy with learning challenges, and of course, this fact is central to the novels. But just as Hank doesn’t let his challenges define him, neither do we let the issue of learning differences define the books. The Hank Zipzer novels are intended for every child who loves to laugh, who loves comic adventure, and who relates to a funny, resourceful, glass half-full type of hero,” the letter from Winkler and Oliver reads.
“We are proud of the Hank Zipzer books. We have tried to fill them with humor and with truth. Laughter is a powerful teacher. And so are you! We hope this reading experience brings joy to your students and contributes a little bit to their understanding of themselves and their peers.”
Tickets and table sponsorships can be reserved for the JCCF Celebration Benefit by contacting the organization’s office at 716 West Main Street (in the United Bank Branch Building); by calling the Foundation at 304-372-8588; or through email at jane.winters@pacfwv.com.
Seating will be assigned (front row to back) for individual tickets and sponsorships by the date the confirmation is made.
The Jackson County Community Foundation is an affiliate of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates,  a non-profit public charity created by local citizens to build permanent endowment funds and issue grants and scholarships to meet community needs.