In Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom) looks back on the legacy of America's favorite neighbor: Fred Rogers, focusing on his radically kind ideas.
For over thirty years, Fred Rogers, an unassuming minister, puppeteer, Peabody award-winning writer and producer was beamed daily into homes across America. In his incredibly popular PBS show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children about some of life’s weightiest issues, in a simple, direct fashion. There hadn’t been anything like Mister Rogers on television before or since.
Though he may be best known today as a soft-spoken, cardigan-wearing children’s television host, in reality, Fred Rogers’ career represents a sustained attempt to present a coherent, beneficent view about how we should best speak to children about important matters and how television could be used as a positive force in our society.
Rogers believed that children have deep feelings the way everyone else does, and his work was a testament to the importance of listening to them, validating them and responding to them. It was of the utmost importance to Rogers that kids felt valued, liked and appreciated, simply for being who they were.
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