Henry Winkler helps children with his books

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver are the authors of the hilarious and engaging new series of young readers' books called
Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver are the authors of the hilarious and engaging new series of young readers' books called "Here's Hank." | Submitted

Henry Winkler — author, actor, director, Fonz — will appear in Naperville and Woodridge Friday and Saturday.

With his writing partner Lin Oliver, Winkler will be at the Mill Street School in Naperville Friday and at Anderson’s Bookshops’ 12th Annual Children’s Literature Breakfast in Woodridge Saturday. Both events are presented by Anderson’s Bookshop.

The program will feature the new “Here’s Hank” series of books by New York Times bestselling authors Winkler and Oliver.

New are the first two installments: “Bookmarks are People Too” and “A Short Tale About a Long Dog.” The authors’ program will be followed by a book signing. If you want to meet the authors, you must purchase both of the new paperback editions or one hardcover copy from Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave., in Naperville.

They will do a short presentation on the books, plus read from the books, take questions and sign copies. The children’s questions are often his favorite part of the event. They usually range from the normal — “Where do you get your stories?” and “Who draws the pictures?” — to the truly creative — “Can you put the book in a washing machine?” and “Do you have a lumpy couch?”

“We don’t,” he clarified. “They are so entertaining and so guileless that it makes my heart smile.”

Adults and kids alike come to the signings, he said. Adults know him from his acting career, while kids are more like to know only him as the co-author of the critically-acclaimed “Hank Zipzer” series of children’s books, which were inspired by his own childhood experiences.

Winkler was 31 years old before he found out there was a name for the reason he had a hard time in school, when his stepson was being tested for dyslexia.

“Everything that they said to him was true about me,” he said. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness. I’m not stupid. I’ve got a name.’”

He knows first-hand the anger, frustration and difficulty that comes with dyslexia, and that translates to his books.

“I wanted somebody to tell me that it was going to be OK, that it didn’t matter whether or not I was good in algebra or good in geometry, that would have no bearing on my life whatsoever,” he said.

“We’re clear in the books about that. There’s more than one way to solve a problem. We’re clear when we talk to the kids. We tell them no matter how difficult school is; it has nothing to do with how brilliant you are.”

The newest series of books are prequels, and star Hank as a second grader before he was diagnosed.

“Everywhere my dyslexia bumps up against the world, we create an adventure,” he said.

If you miss them Friday, catch them at Anderson’s 12th annual Children’s Literature Breakfast Saturday.

“Our message doesn’t change,” Winkler said. “We give the same speech to adults as we do to kids. The kids laugh at different jokes, but they totally get what Lin and I are saying.”

They have an order for four more “Hank” books. Next up for Winkler is an appearance on the finale of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”

“We are so grateful and thankful to see everybody, and we don’t leave ’til everybody gets their book signed,” he said. “We’re definitely very excited to be there.”

See andersonsbookshop.com for information about the Children’s Literature Breakfast.

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