Go behind the scenes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with this unprecedented dive into its storied history. More than fifty years ago, Fred Rogers, a modest television host, revolutionized children’s entertainment with a simple set design, quiet dialogue, and a few hand puppets playing out everyday situations. The effect was extraordinary: Mister Rogers created a relationship with millions of young viewers, each of whom felt as if they were visiting with a trusted friend. His radical kindness, acceptance, and empathy created a sacred place where everyone felt safe and valued.
Featuring exclusive photographs; a guide to the characters, puppets, and episodes; original interviews; and rare ephemera, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: A Visual History reveals how the show came together to have a deep impact on American culture. Discover wonderful anecdotes from Yo-Yo Ma and Wynton Marsalis as well as the actors, directors, art designers, producers, studio musicians, and more who devoted their careers to working with Fred. Chronicling the show's complete timeline—from its humble beginnings on WQED in Pittsburgh to its commemoration on the big screen in the feature film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks, based on a screenplay written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster and directed by Marielle Heller—this incredibly comprehensive book celebrates both Fred Rogers and the wonderful legacy of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
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About the Author
Tim Lybarger is the creator of The Neighborhood Archive, an exhaustive online fansite for all things Mister Rogers. He is also school counselor in East-Central Illinois and lives with his family in Mahomet, Illinois.
Melissa Wagner is a writer and editor who had the honor of working with Fred Rogers on several books, including The Mister Rogers Parenting Book and Mister Rogers’ Playtime. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughter.
Jenna McGuiggan is a writer and editor who has worked with The Fred Rogers Center. She lives with her husband and four gray cats in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, the city next door to Mister Rogers’ hometown of Latrobe.
Read an Excerpt
Along with being the best neighbor a kid could want, Fred Rogers was also an ordained minister, though not one with ceremonial robes or a collar, but rather a zip-up cardigan sweater and a pair of blue sneakers. He had no church of his own, if you consider church as a place of brick and mortar, pews and stained-glass windows, pipe organs and hymnals. He did have a cozy living room and kitchen, an aquarium of hungry if nondescript fish, and he sang songs that sprung from the conversations he was having. He gave no sermons to his parishioners, instead speaking with them in simple, commonsense tones, often asking questions. Despite having a daily TV show for so many years, he was by no means a TV preacher.
Fred Rogers knew where his ministry was, in the few feet on the other side of the TV screen. His congregation was the children who made watching Mister Rogers a part of their day. Without ever mentioning God, or using the word religion, Fred tended to the needs and the worries of his flock with ardent passion and preparation. His television programs were studied and precise works meant to address the infinite fears and questions faced by children: Can I get sucked down the drain of my bathtub? Am I safe in an airplane? Why am I so sad sometimes? For an appreciation of just how much Fred Rogers strived to make his congregation understand the workings of its world, look at his broadcasts dealing with death, assassination, and divorce.
What many people cannot fathom in Fred Rogers is that his affection, delight, and care for children was sincere. It was. His true faith was stated in the continuous message of his ministry, that each of us are special in our own way, that what is essential in life is invisible to the naked eye, and that he really did want us to be his neighbor.