KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 23, 2022
Stanley Tucker tells the elementary school students he works with through his Leap for Literacy nonprofit that each of them can be the author of their own life story.
Tucker is known to students as the smiling, encouraging “Stan the Man” whom they greet with high fives and hugs as he visits schools in metro Atlanta and elsewhere. He is writing his life story, one that involves helping children develop a lifelong love of reading and writing.
Tucker graduated from Kennesaw State in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the Bagwell College of Education. Tucker has long been inspired to be a mentor to children, just as relatives and community members stepped up to mentor him after his father died when he was just 8 years old. He saw teaching as the best way to achieve that goal. But by 2015, he revised his story when he turned an idea to visit schools and give away books into Leap for Literacy.
In the early days, this leap began with Tucker packing his car with 1,200 books, leaving just enough room for him to sit, and traveling the community visiting schools.
“Literally, I started out just going into classrooms and reading and telling students about the importance of reading and giving some books away,” Tucker said. “It was a small amount at the time and just kind of grew into what it is today.”
From that small beginning, Leap for Literacy has grown and expanded its mission, adding new chapters to Tucker’s story.
Through Leap for Literacy, children still receive free books, but the books also serve as a reward for acts of kindness by the kids. The program has added a writing element, where students write and illustrate their own books, with some chosen to be professionally illustrated and published through Amazon.com. Five of the children’s books have been illustrated by Kennesaw State art students. And when Stan the Man visits schools these days, it’s often in the Read ‘N’ Roll bookmobile, a former tour vehicle donated by Zac Brown, whom Tucker met while working as a server in a restaurant the singer visited with his family.
Leap for Literacy is also available through a YouTube channel using videos created by Marietta-based filmmaking brothers Jared and Matthew Young. The Youngs also worked with Tucker to create a show called The Very Airy Library, where children’s authors discuss their books.
Tucker said he’s grateful to people like Brown, the Young brothers, his board members, and donors who support Leap for Literacy and have fueled its growth. In the future, he envisions book fairs featuring titles created by students in the Leap for Literacy writing program, and he is actively seeking sponsors for that next chapter.
This feature was first published in Kennesaw State University Magazine.
– Gary Tanner
– Photos submitted
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.