Last year, KDL asked patrons to nominate individuals and organizations for KDL's Literacy Champion Award. The submissions were so inspiring!
Henry Stallings III, a 3rd grade teacher at Grandville East Elementary and professional musician and DJ, was a finalist.
Henry Stallings was my daughter's 3rd grade teacher this past school year. I have always struggled to get her to enjoy reading and to be interested in books outside of school. This year, with the encouragement and support of Mr. Stallings, she blossomed as a reader. She chooses to read at home and asks to go to KDL at least once a week.
Not only has he helped significantly improve her literacy, but he's also used books to help her overcome personal struggles. Hailey is biracial and has had a lack of self-confidence. She's struggled with self-love because her skin color and hair are different than mine and many of her friends. No matter how much I tried to tell her she is beautiful and perfect just as she is, she would still say she wished she had straight hair, and she didn't like her skin. It was heartbreaking.
Then this year Mr. Stallings really encouraged her to embrace her natural black beauty and to love herself. One way he achieved this was through books! The most impactful book was Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry. This book helped give her the self-confidence and self-love that I always wanted for her. She went from trying to hide her hair by only wearing it in ponytails or down only if I would straighten it, to embracing her natural curly big hair. Because of Mr. Stallings and his promotion of literacy, Hailey finally loves herself just as much as the rest of us love her. That is why Henry Stallings is a Literacy Champion.
The library's mission is to further all people. How has the library furthered you?
The library has furthered me by being a resource to assist me in being a lifelong learner. My education is and has been one of the most important parts of my life (I have two bachelor’s Degrees and a master’s degree).
Tell us about your favorite library memory.
My favorite library memory took place during my entire 8th grade year of school. One of my electives consisted of helping the librarian shelve books.
If someone doesn't use their local library, why should they reconsider?
If someone doesn’t utilize their local library, I think they should reconsider because the library is a free resource that can expand your education, provide inspiration and spark your imagination.
If you would like to nominate a person or organization for the 2023 Literacy Champion Award, please visit kdl.org/literacychampion. Winners will receive two tickets to the Literary Libations gala, $1,000 and a crystal trophy.