Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sweater Day- Mister Rogers 80th Birthday

Eighty years ago children’s public television pioneer Fred Rogers was born on March 20th. To honor Fred Rogers who died of cancer 5 years ago, March 20th has been promoted as “Sweater Day”. Mr. McFeely (David Newell) of Family Communications is asking everyone everywhere from Pittsburgh to Paris to wear their favorite sweater. “It doesn’t have to have a zipper down the front like the one Mister Rogers wore on the program, it just has to be special to you”. Fred Rogers has inspired that sort of direct, personal confidence. His gentle, reassuring tone was absolutely genuine. Mr. Rogers duplicated this tone in his writings, too. The titles show his willingness to tackle subjects that kids want to know about, and sometimes adults can't figure out how to discuss: going to the potty, when a pet dies, making friends, going to the dentist, moving, adoption, stepfamilies, and divorce, even death. He also tackled some topics just for fun. A musician himself, Mr. Rogers has a video about musical stories. Another of his books is just about kindness. One of his videos is about circuses. But throughout it all, he consistently presented this powerful message: “You are special. I'm so glad to know you”. We have missed him for five years in our neighborhood, but we have videos and books to keep passing on the words of Mister Rogers to the next generation of library users.

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