Mr. Rogers was a gentle, wise neighbor for millions of children. Because Mr. Rogers Neighborhood aired on my local PBS station, I had the privilege of growing up with Mr. Rogers and his puppet incarnations (King Friday, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, Lady Elaine, etc.) that lived in the Neighborhood of Make Believe. Visiting with other neighbors like Mr. McFeely (named after Mr. Rogers Grandfather), Chef Brockett, Lady Aberlin, Bob Dog, and Purple Panda was also a treat. Interestingly, my first husband (deceased) used to take trumpet lessons at Joe Negri's Music Store (Handy Man Negri)!
Decades later, I still enjoy Mr. Rogers Neighborhood--now in re-runs on PBS Kids. (My 6 year old son loves it, too.) Despite his passing over 2 years ago, Fred Rogers' generous spirit and legacy live on.
Mr. Rogers' unconditional acceptance has comforted and affirmed children on the deepest levels. He never talked down to his audience, and wasn't afraid to tackle difficult topics that aren't even touched by children's programs nowadays. Rogers unflinchingly examined painful emotions, and gave practical, gentle wisdom on how to deal with them. He assured us all that we were special-and that no one could take our place. Often spotlighting the differently-abled, his curiosity and interest showed us that those who we might think are "different" from us are really the same, sharing--at core--similar emotions, fears, setbacks and triumphs.
And he's right, really.
What surprised me about this book is the spiritual depth of Fred Rogers. Sure, I knew he was kind, compassionate, insightful, and curious-but I didn't realize just how deep his understanding of the human condition and of Spirit flowed.
"Every human being has value. This is the basis of all healthy relationships. Through living each day as it is given to me, I've learned that. It cannot be `taught', but it can be `caught' from those who live their lives right along with us. What a privilege to be able to look for the good in our neighbor!"
"There are times when explanations, no matter how reasonable, just don't seem to help."
"The outside things of life certainly do change and often quickly, but the inside things remain. Our parents and their parents and their parents-all of us-were created by Love. Love with a capital L. And we spend our lives trying to recognize that we truly *are* lovable and capable of loving."
"We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of saying to the world who we are."
"What's been important in my understanding of myself and others is the fact that each one of us is so much more than any one thing. A sick child is much more than his or her sickness. A personal with a disability is much, much more than a handicap. A pediatrician is more than a medical doctor. You're much more than your job description or your age or your income or your output."
The profound wisdom of Fred Rogers resounds through this gem of a book, reminding young and old alike Who we are, and what we're capable of when someone believes in us.
Thank you, Mr. Rogers, for believing in us.
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