We didn’t always have a TV when I was growing up, but when we did Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was one of the television programs I was allowed to watch. As a young child, I can remember enjoying the routine and the little bit of magic that the show gave us.
When I grew up and had my own apartment I received a used TV and found myself drawn to watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood again. It was a completely different experience as an adult. On his show he always talked about something important that applied to all ages of people and I found his words and songs encouraging and comforting.
I decided to write a letter to Mr. Rogers about a particular episode that had brought tears to my eyes. When I received a response letter a couple of weeks later, I thought “oh that’s nice” and opened it, thinking it was maybe a form letter, thanking me for my interest in the show. But I was shocked to see that Mr. Rogers had written me a personal reply! He wrote to me the way he spoke to the guests on his show, with true caring and respect. I later found out that he personally replied to every single fan letter he received. It just shows what a unique and beautiful person he was.
I loved the simplicity and the pace of his show, a real-life pace without loud talking or yelling. Mr. Rogers had a great understanding of what children (and adults) need. He focused on helping children prepare for new experiences and understand how to express their feelings about common life situations. Mr. Rogers believed that how you help a child with their first experiences is how they will respond to new experiences for the rest of their life. Some of these easily overlooked life events he addresses in his books: Moving (J 648.9 Rog), Going to Day Care (J 362.7 Rog), Going to the Hospital (J 362.1 Rog), Making Friends (J 177.6 Rog), When a Pet Dies (J 155.9 Rog), and Going on an Airplane (J 387.7 Rog), my favorite because I hate flying and this book provides some comfort. Mr. Rogers explains that he wrote this book because his mother was afraid of flying but that didn’t mean he had to be.
One of the things that was really special about Mr. Rogers was his music. I sing his songs sometimes and my husband and I have a favorite, It’s you I like that we sing to each other. It’s a simple but sweet reminder of how we truly feel towards someone we love. (Click on the link to read the lyrics and hear Mr. Rogers sing the song)
Mister Rogers’ Songbook (J784.6 ROG) is a collection of some of Mr. Rogers’ most popular songs. At the top of each song Mr. Rogers has a small explanation of why it is important. I especially like this quote above the song I like to be told: “When exciting things are going to happen, people like to know about them and think about them. Often it’s much better than having a surprise. If it’s something fun, the fun lasts all the longer the longer we know about it. If it’s something frightening or sad, knowing about it gives families the chance to be close when it happens. Being told gives children a chance to ask questions and to develop their own ways of coping–a chance to prepare themselves and to feel strong. Everybody likes to be told.”
We have two of his music CDs at OWL, Bedtime (J CD MIS) and Coming & Going (J CD MIS) which are very soothing. They are almost like one of his episodes because in between the songs he talks about what it means or how it applies to life.
Many libraries in our consortium have different books, CDs & DVDs by Mr. Rogers so please feel free to request any of these items as well. One of my favorite books of his, which I own, is called You Are Special by Mr. Rogers. It’s a collection of his quotes about different aspects of life, from childhood to adulthood and parenting.
Mr. Rogers is one of my heroes because he had a specific passion for helping children and wanted to make a change in what they saw on TV. He made a huge impact and always stayed true to his mission. He was a wonderful man of integrity and a blessing to many of us. Thank you, Mr. Rogers!
Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at OWL and always loved Daniel Striped Tiger. She is currently humming Mister Rogers’ Peace & Quiet…