Henry Winkler: I didn't read a book myself until I was 31 years old

An interview with the award-winning children's book writer of the Hank Zipzer series and dyslexia awareness campaigner – who adults of certain age will forever know as The Fonz

What were your own school days like?

I was allergic to school. I was completely befuddled by school. I was trying so hard but I couldn't succeed. I took geometry for four years, the same course over and over again and I did not graduate with my senior class. I finally passed geometry after doing summer school and eventually I graduated. But after all that at no point in my professional life, from June 30 1970 when I graduated to May 2014, not one human being has said the word hypotenuse to me! So did I really have to feel so bad and struggle so much and think I was so stupid for so long? I really feel we have teach children how they learn not what we think they should learn at school.

Are the teachers in your Hank Zipzer books Miss Adolf and Mr Rock based on real people?

Yes. Miss Adolf is based on my real teacher and she was a horrible teacher. Mr Rock (the character I play in the TV version of my Hank Zipzer books) is based on my real teacher and he was the man who said to me "Winkler (teachers called kids by their surnames in those days) when you get out of school you're going to be okay". Those words meant everything to me.

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