Overcoming Struggles: Henry Winkler’s Inspiring Journey

A Story of Perseverance and Inspiration

Henry Winkler, the renowned actor and author, has an exceptional story of overcoming obstacles and inspiring others. From a young age, he faced difficulties in school and endured harsh criticism from his parents. Despite these challenges, he went on to achieve remarkable success. Let’s dive into his inspiring journey.

He didn't read a book until he was 31, then a diagnosis led him to inspire kids with similar struggles

A Childhood Filled with Difficulties

During his childhood, Winkler faced high expectations, particularly in terms of education. However, his parents, short Jewish immigrants from Germany, misunderstood his difficulties as laziness. They labeled him as lazy, stupid, and falling short of his potential. Despite their criticism, Winkler knew he was trying his best and refused to believe their claims.

The constant putdowns and name-calling affected his confidence and self-belief. Little did he know that years later, he would come to understand the reason behind his struggles and use his own experience to inspire others, especially children.

Henry Winkler childhood

Struggles Followed by Success

Despite the challenges, Winkler graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University. However, post-graduation, he encountered difficulties once again. Reading scripts proved to be a challenge for him. Instead of following the written words, Winkler improvised and made up his own interpretations.

Although Winkler eventually achieved fame as Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli in Happy Days, he admitted to struggling during table reads. He stumbled over every word and felt completely embarrassed. However, he discovered that when the writing was well-crafted, his brain could absorb the lines effortlessly.

Henry Winkler speaking at an event

The Discovery of Dyslexia

It wasn’t until Winkler’s stepson faced similar struggles in school and was diagnosed with a learning disability that Winkler considered the possibility of having dyslexia himself. At the age of 31, he made the startling discovery. “I didn’t read a book until I was 31 years old when I was diagnosed with dyslexia,” he revealed. Books had always intimidated him and made him feel anxious.

Initially, Winkler felt anger upon learning about his dyslexia diagnosis. He realized that all the arguments with his parents and the punishments he endured had been for naught. But instead of dwelling on the past, he chose to use his diagnosis as an opportunity to inspire others, particularly children. He accomplished this by writing a children’s book series featuring a character named Hank, an elementary school student with dyslexia.

Henry Winkler book signing

Inspiring Young Minds

Winkler’s children’s book series has resonated with numerous young readers, and he often receives letters from children who find solace in his words. In each reply, he includes an uplifting message: “Your learning challenge will not stop you from achieving your dreams. Only you can stop yourself from reaching your dreams.”

Henry Winkler reading to children

Triumph over Adversity

Despite his ongoing struggle with dyslexia, Winkler has achieved remarkable success. Alongside his Hollywood career, he has written several books, with a memoir set to be released in 2024. Despite all his achievements, he considers his books to be one of his proudest accomplishments. Through his journey, he remains an inspiration for those who face similar challenges, proving that with determination, any obstacle can be overcome.

Henry Winkler’s story serves as a powerful inspiration. Just imagine constantly being criticized by your own parents for not living up to their expectations, only to later discover that you have dyslexia. I am immensely grateful that he managed to rise above his hardships and become an inspiration for others who share similar struggles.


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