Appearing on Clarkson’s TV show, Winkler’s words of encouragement to the 8-year-old brought tears to Kelly’s eyes

In his most recent appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Henry Winkler and Kelly Clarkson enjoyed a very wonderful encounter that found the actor/director/author and the singer/talk show host revealing their sweetest and truest selves

It revolved around a discussion involving Clarkson’s 8-year-old daughter who has dyslexia and how Winkler, who learned he had dyslexia when he was an adult, was able to offer wise and comforting words on this disorder to both Kelly and her young daughter. Winkler’s long history of informing others about dyslexia and helping instill confidence in those who have it was on full, positive display on the show.

It all began when Kelly Clarkson talked to Winkler about the many children’s books he has written over the years.

Winkler’s Appearance Brought on the Emotions

Henry Winkler and Kelly Clarkson hugging on set of her TV shgow
The Kelly Clarkson Show/NBC

“I was driving my daughter to school yesterday, and she’s dyslexic,” explained Clarkson, the mother of two, to Winker. “And you have told me that you’re dyslexic, as well. And I find that amazing, to tell my daughter that you’ve written like 40 books and you’re dyslexic, because she was getting bullied at school for not being able to read like the other kids.”

After pointing out to Kelly that one out of five children have dyslexia (and according to the International Dyslexia Association, 15-20% of the population has some symptoms of dyslexia), Winkler inquired as to her daughter’s name. He then turned directly to the camera to deliver an empowering message straight to the second grader, whose name is River Rose:

“River, how you learn has nothing to do with how brilliant you are.”

The audience burst into spontaneous applause as Clarkson was instantly taken by what Winkler said, and reached for a tissue as tears welled in her eyes.

“That’s fine—we’re fine,” a clearly overwhelmed Clarkson sniffled as she dabbed her cheeks. “My make-up artist is going to kill me.”

Winkler Spoke Directly to Kelly Clarkson’s Daughter

After re-assuring Kelly that she looked good, that nothing was dripping, and that she didn’t “look like Giuliani at all,” Clarkson regained her composure and came back with a gentle zinger.

“Not everyone looks great crying,” said Clarkson with a smile. “I also don’t look like Rachel McAdams from The Notebook, so I’m trying to handle it.”

Before segueing into the next section of the interview, Clarkson also mentioned that her daughter’s school had run a program about dyslexia. In it, the presenters identified a handful of accomplished celebrities who have dyslexia, but have taken control of their learning malady, including actors Anthony Mackie and Zachary Levi, of The Avengers and Shazam! franchises, respectively.

Winkler is famous around the world for portraying nice-guy biker Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli in the hit sitcom Happy Days. Lately, he is best known for his recurring role in the comedy series Arrested Development and co-starring in HBO’s comic crime drama Barry, for which he won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor a couple of years back.

Winkler Has Written Dozens of Children’s Books

Henry Winkler on the set of tv show Barry wearing a jacket and tie.

But there are many who don’t realize the sweet success that the good-hearted Winkler has enjoyed as the author of more than 40 well-received children’s books over the past two decades. Led by the ongoing series Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever, the very popular collection has yielded both a TV series and a Christmas film over the years, and revolves around the funny and positive adventures of a boy with a learning disorder.

The tales are clearly inspired by the real-life experiences of Winkler, whose undiagnosed dyslexia made him an underachiever during his childhood. Many years later, his contribution to educating people near and far about dyslexia through the Hank Zipzer series was recognized around the world: he was given the Key to the City of Winnipeg for “contributions to education and literacy,” and he was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to children with special educational needs and dyslexia in the UK” by Queen Elizabeth, among other honors.

One doesn’t have to be a celebrity to help in the dissemination of information on any health or educational issue—there are a number of organizations and advocates who work to help others learn about the difficulties of dyslexia and how it to combat it. But when a high-profile figure like Winkler makes it one of his missions to do what he can to increase the public’s awareness, it can only be looked at as encouraging and effective.

And in last week’s simple statement to young River Rose (that was seen by millions!), Winkler words rang with clarity, warmth and truth.