Interview with Henry Winkler

Monday, January 21, 2008.

Photo of Henry Winkler from the American Library AssociationAccording to the website, Government statistics show 25 million Americans are functionally illiterate. The primary cause is dyslexia or one of its many variants.

Through their children’s book series, Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever, co-authors Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler share the struggles and triumphs of a resourceful elementary school student as he deals with the challenges that come with dyslexia. The stories are based on Henry Winkler’s own experiences with the disorder.

On this edition of Just One More Book, Mark speaks with actor, director, producer and author, Henry Winkler about becoming an author and his relationship with Hank Zipzer, his struggles with reading and learning, and what we can do to help our children.

This is episode 300 of Just One More Book!!

UPDATE: Click here to see the transcript of this interview.

Photo: American Library Association


Comment by Jen Robinson

January 21, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

This is a truly great interview, Andrea and Mark. So well researched, and just such wonderful content. I think that everyone, especially parents of kids who have any kind of learning difference, should listen to this.

Comment by Just One More Book!!

January 21, 2008 @ 5:59 pm


Thank you!

I agree with you about the value of Mr. Winkler’s clear, honest message. Hearing first hand the perspective of someone who’s survived the many challenges of learning differences and come out smiling and working to help others is eye-opening and inspiring.

What an honour to help spread the message here.

Thanks for listening.

Comment by Whitney

January 21, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

This was a simply amazing interview. Totally compelling, and totally insightful into the struggles of reading for people with dyslexia.

I met Henry Winkler when he spoke at Centreville School a few years ago, and it was a wonderful, uplifting experience. My heart goes out and breaks for the suffering child he was, and the message of compassion for our kids- to know they are smart even if they struggle…he has wonderful insight, and he is making the world easier to understand for kids with dyslexia and their parents every day. Wow.

Comment by Paige

January 23, 2008 @ 10:09 am

I literally cried when I heard this. Well done!

Comment by christine tripp

January 23, 2008 @ 11:29 am

Wonderful interview Mark and Henry!!! I all sounded so like my childhood, back in “the day”, before there were “learning disabilities” before there was “dyslexia”, at a time when you were just being lazy, not trying and (as Mr. Winkler states) not living up to your potential. If it had not been for my ability to draw and set myself apart from the other kids who were doing well academically, I doubt I would have made it through school with any self esteem what so ever. I knew I was trying, I knew I wasn’t lazy but I couldn’t add, I couldn’t read a book out loud to the class and I couldn’t spell out the stories that lurked inside my mind. I was so lucky that I could “draw” them insead. When I do school visits/workshops for my books and Illustration work, I bring along my old report cards and read the teacher comments to the kids in the audience. I hope that I show them, no matter what is said about you, you have to find your voice and where ever it hids in you. You may not walk the traditional career path in life, but that’s ok, sometimes there is something waiting for you that is much, much better!

Comment by Just One More Book!!

January 23, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

Paige and Chris,

Thanks so much for listening and for leaving your thoughts.

Chris, it’s so wonderful that you are speaking to children about the challenges you faced. I think it’s a huge service to children — well all people — when we speak honestly about our struggles as well as our accomplishments.

Comment by Kimberly Kassner

February 27, 2008 @ 11:09 am

I just wanted to tell Henry that he touched my heart when he was on Oprah. I help thousands of students who learn differently (I KNOW how he felt) and wanted to share this SHORT (few minute) video that I’m sure will bring tears to his eyes. Please share it with him. I think he’ll be inspired! Maybe he’ll even get another book idea!

Thank you for all the great work you do reaching children!

Kimberly Kassner
Author of, You’re a Genius-And I Can Prove It!

Pingback by ALSC Blog » Blog Archive » Episode 2: Just One More Book!!

February 28, 2008 @ 10:15 pm

[…] Henry Winkler […]

Pingback by - » Just One More Book

December 6, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

[…] They are connected, and feature interviews with authors and the people passionate about writing. Henry Winkler (yes, that Henry Winkler), poet Jack Prelutsky, and Eleanor Wachtel, host of CBC’s Writers […]

Comment by Joy

January 4, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

Does anyone know what age group his books are for?

Comment by Just One More Book!!

January 4, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

Hank is in grade 5

Comment by Susan Morita

January 6, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

I’m supposed to be doing a few tasks today and I’ve done none of them. I started thinking and writing about my elementary school experieces and the pain opened up again. I looked up dysflexia and found so much information I’d never before. Somehow I landed here and listened the interview with Henry. I’m shocked and happy that he somehow mananged graduate colledge and become the successful man he is. He and I born in the same year and I’m still living in my own life with no moon.

I will read more information to help myself. I thank you Henry for writing books for kids to understand their challenges and that there are successful people out and they can be one of them.

Comment by Karen Hopkins

February 10, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

I’m extremely greatful to Mr. Winkler for writting these books. I plan to purchase them for my nine year old son who has recently been diagnosed dyslexic. There is very little help in the public school setting. We had to pay a lot of money to have our son tested and for continued toutoring. My heart breaks for families who cannot afford these services. If a child cannot read he has trouble doing anything. How do we break though to the public school system on this subject? How do we find the funding for early intrevention in the public schools specific to dyslexia? Texas has a program why can’t the rest of the country? Dyslexia affects more children than ay public school I know will acknowledge.

Comment by Mrs.Seeberg

February 25, 2009 @ 9:57 am

These books are awesome.i’ve read the whole series.Are you going to write anymore books?Why did you choice to write books instead of acting?What was it like being the Fonz on “Happy Days”.

Pingback by Tomorrows Trust - A Review of Catholic Education » Blog Archive » Niagara Falls, or Does it? Zipzer writes stories on “does not live up to potential”

May 30, 2009 @ 7:52 am

[…] dyslexia, reading these books was like a flashback to childhood and my own early school struggles. Henry Winkler in an interview talks about his own struggles with dyslexia. The books tout Hank as the […]

Pingback by Henry Winkler: If you will it, it’s not a dream

September 16, 2009 @ 6:00 am

[…] I had the privilege of interviewing Henry Winkler last year about his Hank Zipzer books and the challenges he’s faced with Dyslexia.  You can listen to that interview by CLICKING HERE. […]

Comment by Janet

September 18, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

I just started reading the Hank Zipzer series. I originally took them out for my son’s reading pleasure, but ended up reading them myself. I have to tell you, these books are outrageously funny. And I absolutely love that Hank is such a funny and compasionate character. Especially beause at that age kids tend to be all about me. He always seems to understand about being “different”. My son isn’t dyslexic, but I’m sure all kids can relate to Hank’s situation, because they all have a bit of insecurity. I grew up watching Happy Days and I have to fell you the “Fonz” was one of my favorite characters…for Henry “Fonzie” Winkler to end up being a children’s author is just fantastic…Keep up the good work Mr. Winkler…you were one of kid crushes and you’re certainly earning kudos with me as an adult….Good luck on your future books…..A fan for life…Janet

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September 24, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

[…] Andrea are reading with their girls. They’ve also got great interviews, like this one with Henry Winkler, who talks about […]

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December 31, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

[…] past September. Of course, we’re fans of his from Happy Days, Arrested Development and we had interviewed him about Hank Zipzer books, but hadn’t realized the extent of his humanitarian work until we […]

Comment by Marlynne Grant

January 6, 2010 @ 6:27 am

This was a very moving and sincere interview but it made me sad as illiteracy is avoidable. The key is not receiving a diagnosis of ‘dyslexia’ but being privileged to receive the most effective form of literacy instruction from the very beginning. ‘Dyslexia’ is a descriptive term which just means ‘diffciulty with reading’. It is not a cause of illiteracy. Poor, sometimes well meaning, but nonetheless misguided teaching is at the root of poor literacy. There is now an overwhelming weight of evidence which says that teaching children in a systematic way how the written alphabetic code for English works and then to practise using this code to read and to write down words and sentences is the most effective method of instruction. This is called synthetic phonics. I am an Educational Psychologist and have conducted research over eight years with children new into mainstream primary school (who have every learning disability under the sun), some 700 children, and every single one of these children learned to read and spell and write. For these children ‘dyslexia’ was eliminated. Many struggled but they were identified very early and were given extra light-touch teaching right from the start during their first year in school. It would be marvellous if Henry Winkler could fight the corner for synthetic phonics – the evidence based guarantee for good literacy. Then we could eliminate dyslexia for more children. If you want to read some of the papers which describe my research then their links are:
Sorry, but I don’t have the technological know-how to convert these into hyperlinks!

Comment by Kathleen Caulson

January 25, 2012 @ 9:52 am

I love Henry Winkler! About three years ago, I went to a Huntington, NY book signing that Henry Winkler was speaking and promoting his books about Hank Zipzer. I took my daughter Sarah and her friend Jisselle. I found Mr. Winkler to be very funny and warm. I was… touched by his candidness about his struggle with dyslexia.

I bought a couple of his books to have him sign for the girls and handed him NRSI’s Large-sized Colored Overlay Assessment Kit. I’ve worked at NRSI for almost 20 years and had read about his struggle with dyslexia and I told him they might help. : )

You can imagine my joy, when on a recent episode of The Doctors, Henry Winkler discussed his struggles with dyslexia and how there are tools out there today that can help people struggling to read!

NRSI Colored Overlays can help your child or loved one who is struggling with dyslexia or other vision difficulty when reading! The Colored Overlay Assessment Kit is a simple, easy, inexpensive tool to help assess which color can work best. When you find the color – you can purchase Individual Colored Overlays… it’s that simple and easy – and inexpensive!

Let’s get them reading! : )

Pingback by Ask Umbra: Who’s the greenest character on TV? | Grist

September 24, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

[…] is passionate about getting kids to read. You can listen to an interview with the Fonz himself here. Yours is to wonder why, hers is to answer (or try). Send your green-living questions to […]

Pingback by Ask Umbra: Who’s the greenest character on TV? | "Global Possibilities"

September 25, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

[…] Correction: It has come to our attention that the Fonzie-inspires-a-generation-of-library-goers story is a myth. According to the American Library Association’s website, the organization doesn’t have reliable data to measure such a bump, even if it did occur. This much is true, however: Henry Winkler, who played Fonzie, is passionate about getting kids to read. You can listen to an interview with the Fonz himself here. […]

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