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Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously. The G Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously. The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations.


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Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously. The G Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously. The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations.

30 review for The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    I grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and suffice it to say, most Americans who turned five by 2001 probably did as well. My husband watched the program to help him with his English when he first came to this country. Mister Rogers is by all accounts an American icon, so, when I saw on my goodreads feed a few months back that a new biography on Fred Rogers would be published this year, I knew that it was a book I just had to read. The Good Neighbor, written by a longtime Rogers acquaint I grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and suffice it to say, most Americans who turned five by 2001 probably did as well. My husband watched the program to help him with his English when he first came to this country. Mister Rogers is by all accounts an American icon, so, when I saw on my goodreads feed a few months back that a new biography on Fred Rogers would be published this year, I knew that it was a book I just had to read. The Good Neighbor, written by a longtime Rogers acquaintance Maxwell King, allows readers to meet the Fred Rogers from off the air. It was a nostalgic trip, and has become one of the highlights of my reading year.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    I recently saw the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? and absolutely loved it. Like weeping in the middle of a crowded theater type of love which kinda caught me off guard because although I watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood growing up, it wasn't exactly must see tv for me. But learning more about this man and how much good he put into the world, just really brought up all these emotions in me. While the film focused primarily on the tv show, this book is the definitive Fred Rogers biograph I recently saw the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? and absolutely loved it. Like weeping in the middle of a crowded theater type of love which kinda caught me off guard because although I watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood growing up, it wasn't exactly must see tv for me. But learning more about this man and how much good he put into the world, just really brought up all these emotions in me. While the film focused primarily on the tv show, this book is the definitive Fred Rogers biography to date. I was happy to learn more about his childhood and what events and people helped shape him into such a special man. And yes, I teared up reading this book as well. This is definitely a very thorough biography as it explores his childhood, education, the family he raised with his wife, and of course his career. There were two things that really stood out to me in particular. The first being he came from a family that was very wealthy but incredibly generous to friends, employees, and other people in need. For sure being raised in that type of environment ended up having a positive effect on him and the type of man he became. The second thing I found interesting in the book was the talk about Sesame Street. I guess I never really had thought about it before how the two shows had very different styles and how because Sesame Street is marketed in a different way, it probably will have the more enduring legacy. Overall, I was very pleased with this biography. As is mentioned in the book, you aren't going to find any dirt on Fred. I think the most that can be said about him is he was passionate about his work which might have led to some disagreements. He really was just a good man. A man who might have come across as very simple but put a tremendous amount of effort and thought into everything he did. As he is famous for saying, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.". Thank you Mr. Rogers for always being a helper!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Traveling Sister :)

    I was anxious to read this biography as my older kids really grew up with Mr. Rodgers and I admire him as a person and role model. However the writing in this biography is so mediocre and repetitive that I just can't finish. It's a shame because this could have been so much better. So DNF for me at 60%

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers had told his young viewers, “my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Yes, there are. Fred Rogers was proof of that. A man born with privileged demographics along with considerable “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers had told his young viewers, “my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Yes, there are. Fred Rogers was proof of that. A man born with privileged demographics along with considerable family wealth, Rogers was free to explore any calling that spoke to him. What a gift to the world that he chose to use this incredible opportunity to teach, help and empower. Let Mister Rogers be an example to us all. In The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, author Maxwell King did an enormous amount of research to provide a well-rounded biography. It not only showcases Rogers's beautiful human qualities, but also his family history, his educational pursuits and what inspired them, the business end of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and other televised programs, examples of how his sensitivity was both a blessing and curse, and even a section where rumors are debunked about Rogers, such as tattoo sleeves, military service, etc. Admittedly, when I saw the audiobook was over 14 hours long, I almost skipped over this title, but later that day I had an encounter with a person in which the above quote was referenced and I took it as a sign. His words and example still make an impact, and learning about this man left me feeling nostalgic and humbled. “What a difference one person can make in the life of another.” **Bonus: Audiobook narrated by LeVar Burton! My favorite quote: “Whenever a great tragedy strikes – war, famine, mass shootings, or even an outbreak of populist rage – millions of people turn to Fred's messages about life. Then the web is filled with his words and images. With fascinating frequency, his written messages and video clips surge across the internet, reaching hundreds of thousands of people who, confronted with a tough issue or an ominous development, open themselves to Rogers's messages of quiet contemplation, of simplicity, of active listening and the practice of human kindness.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Ok, this book may only "speak" to those from the generations of children in America and Canada who watched Mr. Rogers on TV, but while it will tug on our nostalgia, it will also speak to those today who are tired of negativity everywhere we turn. Mr. Rogers was a breath of fresh air in the past and he is still that today. I am SO GLAD that this wasn't a salacious tell-all about Mr. Rogers. He really WAS the person who sang to his tv neighbors every episode. He really WAS that loving and giving an Ok, this book may only "speak" to those from the generations of children in America and Canada who watched Mr. Rogers on TV, but while it will tug on our nostalgia, it will also speak to those today who are tired of negativity everywhere we turn. Mr. Rogers was a breath of fresh air in the past and he is still that today. I am SO GLAD that this wasn't a salacious tell-all about Mr. Rogers. He really WAS the person who sang to his tv neighbors every episode. He really WAS that loving and giving and amazing, and he really thought that others had those attributes, or that they could grow and learn them, too. He was also humble, which makes him awesome instead of full of himself. I think it almost goes without saying that the world is going to heck in a hand basket, or the media wants us to think so, so this book by explaining an amazing man and how he truly CARED and slowed things down is such a huge boost. I keep saying I want to make a tv station that plays only puppies, kittens, the occasional human baby and people HELPING each other. I want rainbows and flowers with butterflies and happy people LOVING and HELPING one another. Seriously, why ELSE would MILLIONS of people go online to look at videos of adorable kitties and puppies unless for a much needed boost of happiness/dopamine? Why is it so needed? Turn on the news/tv. This book is that boost. It gives me hope for humanity. It references when Mr. Rogers spoke to a Congressional Committee, to plead that public television wouldn't get a budget cut. The video starts and it's like, "Huh, he's kinda goofy looking and he sounds really dopey." By the end of it? Ugly crying, "I will give you ALL the money FOR THE CHILDREN!!" Seriously, YouTube this clip, it's like seven minutes long. Completely worth your time. If you know Mr. Rogers, this will cement your love for him. If you don't know him, but the end of this clip, you will want to. And when you want to, pick up this book and learn about him. Then look up his Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood show. PRICELESS! The book itself was somewhat repetitive in places, but the subject matter completely carried it. Recommended for all, especially if you need to have your hope in humanity restored. 5, YES I want to be your Neighbor, stars! My thanks to NetGalley and Abrams Press for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Librariann

    I really want to like this but IT NEEDS AN EDITOR SO BAD. I do not need to hear six times, in six different contexts, about how Fred stayed in an air conditioned room all summer one summer because his asthma was so bad. I'm still reading it, because I want to know more. But I really hope there's a little more editing prior to the actual publication date....OR IS THIS JUST HOW AVERAGE ADULT NONFICTION READS? I have been spoiled by the likes of the 57 Bus and Vincent and Theo.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Scott S.

    Another outstanding biography (the short list also includes Matthew Polly's Bruce Lee: A Life and Jonathan Eig's Ali: A Life, in my opinion) published since last autumn, King's The Good Neighbor is a double-barreled salvo in presenting the detailed life story of TV host Fred Rogers AND a certain nostalgia factor for a large but relevant audience from North America. A nice, heartwarming refrain throughout the book was that Rogers was a 'what you see is what you get'-type of man -- devout, well-me Another outstanding biography (the short list also includes Matthew Polly's Bruce Lee: A Life and Jonathan Eig's Ali: A Life, in my opinion) published since last autumn, King's The Good Neighbor is a double-barreled salvo in presenting the detailed life story of TV host Fred Rogers AND a certain nostalgia factor for a large but relevant audience from North America. A nice, heartwarming refrain throughout the book was that Rogers was a 'what you see is what you get'-type of man -- devout, well-meaning, caring, tolerant / accepting, and absolutely devoted to the development of children. And yet I don't want to make it sound like a boring or predictable read. The man had his quirks, too and was known to be strict, firm, and particular in his disciplined work habits. However, that just makes him all the more human. Another pleasant and oft-mentioned characteristic was his sense of humor (sometimes also referred to as whimsy), which was demonstrated in stories about practical jokes on the set and his unexpected enjoyment of a certain legendary British TV comedy show. A great moment (also noted by my GR friend Jen in her wonderful review) in the book - which is available for viewing on YouTube - is Roger's thoughtful and astute testimony before a senate sub-committee in 1969. The U.S. government was considering slashing the funding for then-fledgling public TV stations. The senator in charge (a gruff but experienced politician tasked by the president with a difficult job, so it would be unfair to simply label him as a villain) is obviously skeptical and even dismissive at first. Rogers simply but powerfully explains the intent and content of his TV show for children. The senator's change of heart and final response would make even the Grinch smile. I admit a certain amount of bias - since I was one of those viewers in the late 70's; in those pre-cable days Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (and Sesame Street) were the shows to watch as a kid - but it was great to learn that our 'TV neighbor' was a good man who first-and-foremost cared about educating / entertaining us in a positive way. The world could use more people like him.

  8. 5 out of 5

    jeremy

    "i'm very much interested in choices, and what it is that enable us human beings to make the choices we make all through our lives. what choices lead to ethnic cleansing? what choices lead to healing? what choices lead to the destruction of the environment, the erosion of the sabbath, suicide bombings or teenagers shooting teenagers? what choices encourage heroism in the midst of chaos?" the good neighbor: the life and work of fred rogers is a comprehensive biography of mister rogers, one of th "i'm very much interested in choices, and what it is that enable us human beings to make the choices we make all through our lives. what choices lead to ethnic cleansing? what choices lead to healing? what choices lead to the destruction of the environment, the erosion of the sabbath, suicide bombings or teenagers shooting teenagers? what choices encourage heroism in the midst of chaos?" the good neighbor: the life and work of fred rogers is a comprehensive biography of mister rogers, one of the most beloved (and deserving) pop culture figures in american history. maxwell king, ceo of the (non-profit) pittsburgh foundation and former journalist, has penned the authoritative volume on the man who, for so many, was a constant companion, friend, guide, and role model throughout the days of youth. for over three decades (and some 900+ episodes), mister rogers' neighborhood was the standard-bearer in wholesome children's television programming. covering all aspects of his life (1928-2003), the good neighbor portrays a man devoted to the (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) well-being of children. born to a very well-to-do, philanthropic family in latrobe, pennsylvania, rogers was a smart, serious, kind child who was often bullied and picked-on. his early interests in religion (he initially wanted to be a presbyterian minister, attended dartmouth, and later earned a masters of divinity), puppetry, music, and kids blossomed into a career that melded them all. guided by his own self-discipline and sense of duty, rogers was eminently devoted to his craft and took his charge quite seriously (often exactingly so). mister rogers is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late (given ongoing tragedies after which his comforting words of wisdom are often sought out, the issuance of a stamp from the postal service, the forthcoming biopic starring tom hanks, etc.) and the good neighbor is most certainly a welcome addition to the renewed interest. king's biography paints the vivid portait of a man who strove his whole life to embody and exemplify the ideals he tried to instill in others. if there's ever been an american public figure more befitting of veneration, she or he doesn't come easily to mind. fred rogers' legacy looms large and ought to endure into posterity. a friend to all (and most notably children, of course), rogers was indeed the change he wanted to see in the world. generations of children now fully grown (including this former child) remember fondly his heretofore unparalleled television program (and all of its wonderful guests, characters, and themes), inspiring millions of us to like ourselves just the way we are. the world was truly a richer place for having fred rogers a part of it and the good neighbor is a fitting tribute to the man who shaped the lives of so many. "one of the major goals of education must be to help students discover a greater awareness of their own unique selves, in order to increase their feelings of personal worth, responsibility, and freedom."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stacie C

    What memories do I have of Fred Rogers? I remember his show and I remember puppets but I don’t remember much of the man. Regardless I was intrigued by this biography and the concept of learning more about this man, whose songs I remember but whose life I do not. I feel like everyone remembers the man in the cardigan but no one knew him. After reading this book I feel like I know him and more than that, I miss him. I wish that I had incorporated him into my child’s life at a young age. I wish I c What memories do I have of Fred Rogers? I remember his show and I remember puppets but I don’t remember much of the man. Regardless I was intrigued by this biography and the concept of learning more about this man, whose songs I remember but whose life I do not. I feel like everyone remembers the man in the cardigan but no one knew him. After reading this book I feel like I know him and more than that, I miss him. I wish that I had incorporated him into my child’s life at a young age. I wish I could remember the lessons he taught and the make belief neighborhood he created. King does an amazing job letting readers into the life of a man who cherished children and was so invested in their education. From his family, to his upbringing, to his passions and drives this book puts everything together and really emphasizes the things that made Fred Rogers the man he was. I would have never even considered the amount of work that went into his show. The thoughts, the care, the consideration, the consultation. Every single bit of these shows was extremely geared towards the thought processes of children. The way the people that were apart of Rogers’s life talk about him and his work ethic is so loving and just genuine. Rogers could be difficult to work with but that wasn’t because of himself, it was because he was desperate to educate children and for him it had to be right. Fred Rogers worked in children’s television for decades with the most memorable show being “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” There were moments while reading this book when I would look for clips of his show. Times when I would just want to hear him sing the opening song or hear him speak. I would sit back and imagine what the world would be like if we still had a man like Rogers’s behind the screen talking straight to children and relating with parents. I highly recommend this book. I'm giving this 5 out of 5 stars. It is well written, informative and emotional. I’m walking away from this missing a man I have never met and yet feeling joy about the work that he has done. He was such a good neighbor.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    At the heart of this work lies the questions: How did Fred Rogers do it? How did he create hundreds and hundreds of shows over the course of three decades? Part of it was his family’s wealth, that allowed him to adopt great patience and perfectionism. But it was also a lineage of renowned child psychologists, from Doctor Spock to Margaret McFarland, who gave input into many of the challenging subjects that Rogers tackled over the years. The most fascinating part of the book is the description of At the heart of this work lies the questions: How did Fred Rogers do it? How did he create hundreds and hundreds of shows over the course of three decades? Part of it was his family’s wealth, that allowed him to adopt great patience and perfectionism. But it was also a lineage of renowned child psychologists, from Doctor Spock to Margaret McFarland, who gave input into many of the challenging subjects that Rogers tackled over the years. The most fascinating part of the book is the description of the process he went through to formulate children’s language, to pick topics, and to write scripts. It is inspirational work that King captures. The Good Neighbor is a solid biography that gives a near-complete look into a great man’s life. Recommended. For my full review: https://paulspicks.blog/2018/08/06/th... For all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I have a hard time calling Fred Rogers anything but Mister Rogers, and that speaks to how much of a cultural symbol he has become for anyone who grew up watching his show--it’s difficult to believe that beyond the Neighborhood, there was a real man who had worries and troubles of his own. King’s loving portrait shines a light on the complexity of Rogers’s life while also revealing that off-camera there was a man just as kind and tender as he appeared on screen. THE GOOD NEIGHBOR is a biography I have a hard time calling Fred Rogers anything but Mister Rogers, and that speaks to how much of a cultural symbol he has become for anyone who grew up watching his show--it’s difficult to believe that beyond the Neighborhood, there was a real man who had worries and troubles of his own. King’s loving portrait shines a light on the complexity of Rogers’s life while also revealing that off-camera there was a man just as kind and tender as he appeared on screen. THE GOOD NEIGHBOR is a biography that is as inspiring as it is fascinating--reading it is like taking a trip back to the Neighborhood, full of make-believe and kindness and gentleness and love.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    What a great book and a terrific audio recording. Pair LeVar Burton with Mr. Rogers and it's nostalgiafest 2018 (in a good way!). If you grew up watching Mr. Rogers, this is a must read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

    First things first, I listened to the audiobook- which is narrated by LaVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow fame) so that was immediately exciting. Second my biggest complaint has less to do with Roger’s story and more to do with the author of this story. The book is needlessly repetitive, almost as if the author wanted the book to be longer than it needed to be. Several times as the listener I am told the SAME THING. I found this disappointing because it took away from the narrative of Fred Rogers li First things first, I listened to the audiobook- which is narrated by LaVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow fame) so that was immediately exciting. Second my biggest complaint has less to do with Roger’s story and more to do with the author of this story. The book is needlessly repetitive, almost as if the author wanted the book to be longer than it needed to be. Several times as the listener I am told the SAME THING. I found this disappointing because it took away from the narrative of Fred Rogers life. The drawn out descriptions made it hard to enjoy the rich life of a man who played such an important part in the lives of so many people. After listening for ten hours, I can’t imagine how I would have felt reading the same thing over again. That aside, this book was full of information I hadn’t known before. Rogers journey into the homes and hearts of so many children is one that was full of drive and originality. The man created a bond between many generations in all different kinds of families. His need for inclusive education of children is one that is commendable. I firmly believe that if more people were life Fred Rogers we would live in a very different world.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ren Rabbit

    Testament of an extraordinary man who was a leading example of kindness and on how to be a more compassionate, helpful and overall better human being. The writing leaves a little something to desire (for me) here and there which is why I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5. But overall this is definitely one of the better biographies I've read, especially of the ones I read that were published this year. An absolute keeper!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Subject: 5 stars Writing: 3 stars When I saw the ARC of this title pop up in Edelweiss, I almost broke my finger hitting the download button, since I had just been talking to my husband about how there weren't any really great biographies of Mister Rogers out there. Unfortunately . . . that might still be true. I feel like the book accomplished what a biography should, in that I now know much more than I did about how Mister Rogers came to be Mister Rogers -- his life and family and the developmen Subject: 5 stars Writing: 3 stars When I saw the ARC of this title pop up in Edelweiss, I almost broke my finger hitting the download button, since I had just been talking to my husband about how there weren't any really great biographies of Mister Rogers out there. Unfortunately . . . that might still be true. I feel like the book accomplished what a biography should, in that I now know much more than I did about how Mister Rogers came to be Mister Rogers -- his life and family and the development of his theories of early childhood education and psychology. However, the writing was very repetitive, sometimes with entire paragraphs repeated verbatim multiple times, so that I found myself getting really frustrated and occasionally skimming. I did finish, but at times it felt like a struggle. I'm holding out hope that maybe this is just because it's an ARC and these problems will be edited out before it's published.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    What a disappointment. 5 stars for the subject, 1 star for the writing. I tried so hard, but did not finish at 40%. This was so repetitive it's not even funny. It was like a high school term paper that required 1000 words but the student only needed 500 words. So we get filler. Repeatedly. Sometimes the same statement is repeated 3 times in a single chapter with slightly different wording. Great, yeah we know Fred spend a summer in an air conditioned room because of his asthma. I don't need to hea What a disappointment. 5 stars for the subject, 1 star for the writing. I tried so hard, but did not finish at 40%. This was so repetitive it's not even funny. It was like a high school term paper that required 1000 words but the student only needed 500 words. So we get filler. Repeatedly. Sometimes the same statement is repeated 3 times in a single chapter with slightly different wording. Great, yeah we know Fred spend a summer in an air conditioned room because of his asthma. I don't need to hear it 4 more times. Rather than having 250 pages of quality material, our author padded this book with unnecessary repetitive drivel to make it 400 pages. I'm looking at you editors.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patty Smith

    Thanks to Netgalley, Abrams Press, and Maxwell King for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. Fred Rogers is beloved by millions of people - children, now adults, who remember Mr. Rogers with fondness. His program was the most successful children’s program on public television due to his vision, commitment and singular ability to talk to children on their level. His message of loving you “just the way you are” Thanks to Netgalley, Abrams Press, and Maxwell King for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. Fred Rogers is beloved by millions of people - children, now adults, who remember Mr. Rogers with fondness. His program was the most successful children’s program on public television due to his vision, commitment and singular ability to talk to children on their level. His message of loving you “just the way you are”, and broaching heavy topics of divorce and death made him a unique voice. He wasn’t afraid to put his feet in a tub of water with a black man, or introduce Jeff, a disabled child, along with many other guests to break down walls of prejudice, racism and other serious subjects. But those who watched will probably best remember his songs, his puppets and of course his cardigan and sneakers, along with the trolley that took us to the land of Make Believe. But who was Fred Rogers? Maxwell King shows us that he was exactly as he presented himself to be. This is a detailed, well researched recap of his life from childhood to death. Mr. Rogers’ childhood had a huge impact on the man he was to become. His sensitivity and ability to listen was developed when he was young, often sick and lonely. His attic is where he created his puppet characters putting on show after show. His mother’s love of religion and strong tenets of being kind and helping those in need was felt so deeply that Fred considered becoming a minister and studied towards it for many years. But his creative and artistic side needed to be expressed. He worked in television for many years honing his skills, always knowing where he was heading. He could have been very rich if he had stayed at NBC, who wanted his show, but he was adamant that there was never to be any advertising to children. He studied child development and worked closely with Dr. Margaret McFarland, an expert in the field, often running scripts by her to make sure the wording was perfect and the meaning would be understood by children. He was an accomplished musician, composing hundreds of songs for the show. He worked very hard, demanded excellence and never compromised who he was for material gain. Who knew this soft spoke, nasally voiced guy would have such a connection with kids. I learned so much about the man behind the cardigan. I really enjoyed learning what made him tick. I had no idea how complex of a man he was. I didn’t realize he had that much control over his show and reading how the show developed into what we saw was really interesting. I never realized what a pioneer he was in television, public television and in children’s programming. The book is thorough and well thought out. It is slow paced and unassuming, like the man himself. There are no false dramatics to make it more exciting. But it didn’t bother me. I rather enjoyed it. It takes you way back and made me long to hear him sing “Won’t you be my neighbor” one more time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This is the wonderful story of a wonderful man. Loved this audiobook and its narration by Levar Burton.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    An enjoyable listen with Levar Burton narrating. While the author sometimes repeats the same story or quote in more than one chapter, overall this is an informative and entertaining biography of a man who's influence is still felt 15 years after his death.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Fred Rogers is my hero. He’s kind and gentle and clever and, best of all, he listens. I read this book with trepidation. Would my hero be dethroned? Would this be the story of a person wildly different from the Mister Rogers I adore? I can tell you, happily, that it is not. Every person, without exception, who met Rogers found him to be exactly as he presented himself on television. He wasn’t a saint—-sometimes he lost his temper and he had troubles with his sons when they were teens—-but he was Fred Rogers is my hero. He’s kind and gentle and clever and, best of all, he listens. I read this book with trepidation. Would my hero be dethroned? Would this be the story of a person wildly different from the Mister Rogers I adore? I can tell you, happily, that it is not. Every person, without exception, who met Rogers found him to be exactly as he presented himself on television. He wasn’t a saint—-sometimes he lost his temper and he had troubles with his sons when they were teens—-but he was a very good human being. This is his story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McPhedran

    What a beautifully written tribute to our favorite sweater-wearing neighbor. Many of us know of Mr. Rogers, and if we don't, it's because we we raised under a rock for most of our formative years. His music, his voice, his make-believe characters are all things we fondly remember from childhood. Immensely talented, and incredibly humble, Fred Rogers talked the talk and walked the walk. He was never one to want the spotlight, but because of his talents, and his passion for early childhood educati What a beautifully written tribute to our favorite sweater-wearing neighbor. Many of us know of Mr. Rogers, and if we don't, it's because we we raised under a rock for most of our formative years. His music, his voice, his make-believe characters are all things we fondly remember from childhood. Immensely talented, and incredibly humble, Fred Rogers talked the talk and walked the walk. He was never one to want the spotlight, but because of his talents, and his passion for early childhood education, his warm smile, and kind voice made it onto our television screens. He was always authentic, and unapologetically himself. He was religious. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister; but more than his Christian faith, he was deeply spiritual, and respected all of the other religions. He felt deeply connected to his childhood, and his relationships with his parents, and felt that childhood is the most important part of our lives. He deeply respected children and their feelings. Reading this book gave me hope for the future, and hope for our sense of humanity. Maybe some of our current leaders need to have a little lesson in kindness, respect and empathy from Mr. Rogers. A fantastic book about a remarkable human being.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    Revisiting the life of one of my childhood heroes, read by one of my other childhood heroes. So comforting. This book was not probably the smoothest written biography in the world, but Fred Rogers' life was so fascinating, and deliciously boring, and cheerful, and good. Such a good man. I can only hope, and try, and learn to be more like him. And at the end of the day, I know he would think I was enough. Just the way I am. Someone TELL ME when the next episode marathon is! I NEED in on this!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I'll admit to being a little afraid to listen to this. What if Fred Rogers turned out to be a horrible person when he wasn't in the Neighborhood?!?! Thankfully, that was not the case. (This is not a coherent 'review' by any means. It's hard to type when you're crying lol.) This was meticulously researched and at times feels like a big hug. It's trippy to hear about Mr Rogers before he was Mr Rogers, especially his college days (when he once dated more than one woman!). The chapters covering his tim I'll admit to being a little afraid to listen to this. What if Fred Rogers turned out to be a horrible person when he wasn't in the Neighborhood?!?! Thankfully, that was not the case. (This is not a coherent 'review' by any means. It's hard to type when you're crying lol.) This was meticulously researched and at times feels like a big hug. It's trippy to hear about Mr Rogers before he was Mr Rogers, especially his college days (when he once dated more than one woman!). The chapters covering his time building the Neighborhood are fascinating. I loved the stories about his appearances on Oprah and how he charmed both Johnny Carson and Joan Rivers. The section covering his responses to fan letters is lovely. The chapter about his illness and death is heart-breaking. I've always wondered how cold-hearted you have to be to hate Mr Rogers and there is an anecdote in this book that answers that question. FOX News has run stories saying that Mr Rogers 'ruined' children by teaching them kindness and gentleness. Because of course those are bad qualities to people of that ilk. We need Mr Rogers more today than ever. Other reviewers on this site complained that the book was repetitive and specifically mentioned that the story of Fred staying in an air conditioned room with a family friend for an entire summer as a kid was mentioned six times. Editors must've got hold of the book because that was not the case for me. That story was told only once in the audio version. I didn't find the book repetitive at all, but I'll admit to be bored during the chapters on Mr Rogers' mentor Margaret McFarland and the early TV execs who gave him a start (I didn't really need to know their childhood/college backgrounds too), but that's more on me just wanting to get back to Mr Rogers himself. And as I mentioned in my updates while listening to this book, the author was a bit like a dog on a bone trying to pit the Neighborhood vs Sesame Street. Mr Rogers was strongly against *brainless* children's programming--which Sesame Street definitely is *not*--it came across a little like someone trying to pit puppies against kittens. I do wish the author would've explored why PBS cut back on airing Mr Rogers' Neighborhood in the years after his death. It's mentioned that that is the case, but the author doesn't go into the why's & how's. (Also, it makes me mad that PBS did such a thing. *cues up "What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel"*) Speaking of the audio book: I cannot recommend it enough. It's a MUST LISTEN if you ever watched PBS as a child and were a fan of both Mr Rogers and Reading Rainbow as it is narrated by LaVar Burton. (And he's really engaging and lends to the warmth of the book's subject matter.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Enchantress debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister

    5 stars! I love it! I requested this title from NetGalley just a few days before it was published, after seeing it on my home feed a few times on GoodReads. I instantly knew I would love it after only reading a few pages. I did not get to complete it before the publish date, but I got a notification from Hoopla, the library app, that it was available in ebook and audio. I thought I'd check the audio out as I am in the car a lot for my commute. So excited to find Lavar Burton of Reading Rainbow n 5 stars! I love it! I requested this title from NetGalley just a few days before it was published, after seeing it on my home feed a few times on GoodReads. I instantly knew I would love it after only reading a few pages. I did not get to complete it before the publish date, but I got a notification from Hoopla, the library app, that it was available in ebook and audio. I thought I'd check the audio out as I am in the car a lot for my commute. So excited to find Lavar Burton of Reading Rainbow narrates this. It's a treasure and I highly recommend it. I have since bought the hardback for my personal bookshelf. I love it that much I must own it. What Mr. Rogers means to me is compassion, love, acceptance, kindness. He believed in all children and made them feel heard and important. In a world that is fast, prone to instant gratification and bells and whistles everywhere, all of the time...Fred went slow. His presentation was full of patience and caring. He was a minister, he was a vegetarian and stated he would not eat anything that had a mother. (I like that!). He was genius but mostly he was kind. It is what I want most for my life...to be considered kind and compassionate. So, he is a hero for me. This is a book I am proud to own. I think anyone could benefit from reading it and I highly recommend it. Many thanks to the publisher, Abrams Press, via NetGalley, and Maxwell King for a digital edition to read for review. For those that like audiobooks, I highly recommend the audio version too. Very inspirational and just what the world needs now. A life well lived.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. ― Fred Rogers Oh, that the world had more people like Fred Rogers: a truly gentle man whose life's work was devoted to kindness, authenticity, and deep-seated values. As a child of the '80s, I adored his quiet, slow-paced show. What I couldn't articulate then is this: it was heavenly programming for the introverted kid. He was the calm voice when everything else in life wa There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. ― Fred Rogers Oh, that the world had more people like Fred Rogers: a truly gentle man whose life's work was devoted to kindness, authenticity, and deep-seated values. As a child of the '80s, I adored his quiet, slow-paced show. What I couldn't articulate then is this: it was heavenly programming for the introverted kid. He was the calm voice when everything else in life was chaos. Though he never preached or outwardly showed it, in truth his show was a ministry to children, dedicated to guiding emotional development. Musician, linguist, child-development expert, and pastor: Fred Rogers was really quite something. Raised in an extremely wealthy family, the Rogers fortune enable a talented young Fred Rogers to turn down a network executive offer from a nascent NBC in order to pursue his passions and work for a pittance in Public Broadcasting. Ever the INFP, Fred Rogers always held firm in his beliefs that every word muttered in his programming must be considered from a child's perspective, and that children must never be advertised to. I could go on and on about the countless attributes of Mr. Rogers the person and the "television neighbor," but suffice it to say, his was a life fully lived and he is truly an American treasure. I must speak on the writing, as this is a review of the biography and not just the person. Although Maxwell King is clearly a huge fan of Rogers' work, I would have liked for an editor to have trimmed the long-winded sections of the book as well a few things that were overly repetitious.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John H

    This brought back a lot of memories for me, and I also learned a lot I didn't know about Fred Rogers. He was a true original.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    Love this man and I love his story. Provides hope for the world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Mr. Rogers was a key figure for me as a kid. I loved the documentary that was released this year, and I figured a book wouldn’t reveal much more. I was wrong. As someone with a degree in educational psychology, I was fascinated to learn about how much research Fred Rogers did in crafting his shows.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Todd Stockslager

    Review title: Making good on television If you haven't seen the recent documentary about Fred "Mister" Rogers, you need to buy it on disc or stream it; warning, you will laugh and cry. In the meantime, read Maxwell King's biography, which might serve as a working scrip of the documentary. And I think both will make a great foundation for understanding and enjoying the forthcoming Hollywood biopic (based on Esquire magazine writer Tom Junod's account of his coverage of Fred Rogers) with Tom Hanks Review title: Making good on television If you haven't seen the recent documentary about Fred "Mister" Rogers, you need to buy it on disc or stream it; warning, you will laugh and cry. In the meantime, read Maxwell King's biography, which might serve as a working scrip of the documentary. And I think both will make a great foundation for understanding and enjoying the forthcoming Hollywood biopic (based on Esquire magazine writer Tom Junod's account of his coverage of Fred Rogers) with Tom Hanks in the cardigan. For nearly 40 years, Fred Rogers made television programs including the most famous "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" designed to help children learn, grow, and understand themselves and the complex world around them. It was more than a job for Rogers, it was a mission. In fact it was a ministry: as an ordained Presbyterian minister, his calling was not to a church but to a studio where he could help children experience their spiritual worth. It sounds high-minded, and it was, often to the point of easy mockery and satirical skewering for its slow pace and soft-spoken host. But King, based on wide-ranging interviews, explains the biographical background and the evident and consistent sincerity of Fred Rogers' mission. This is a tell-all biography on a subject whose private life tells the same story as his public persona. Fred Rogers was born in Latrobe, PA, a small town east of Pittsburgh also famous as the birthplace of Arnold Palmer and the training camp home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. His parents' wealth and prominent place in the community marked Fred out as different from his peers, as did his quiet demeanor and his interest in music and puppets instead of sports and outdoor activities. His life mission was found when he saw television for the first time when home from college for a visit with his parents in 1951. Disappointed by the low quality of the frantic slapstick programming and loud advertising aimed at children, but impressed by the power of the medium to attract attention and its potential to be used for educational purposes, he resolved to apply his education in music and his interest in puppets to fulfilling that potential. The result, first on the local Pittsburgh public television station, then the Canadian broadcasting network, and finally nationally on PBS, was a series of shows culminating in the long-running "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." I must confess that I don't remember watching it much as a child, but it was so ubiquitous that everyone is familiar with its theme song (all the songs on the show written by Rogers), his changing into a cardigan (all made by his mother) and tennis shoes (originally to enable him to rush quietly from spot to spot behind the scenes in the early live TV days), and his slow-paced speaking. To Rogers, the show's opening was a significant transition to a familiar and safe neighborhood where young viewers could learn and understand their worth "just as they are." King goes behind the scenes to unpack the meaning of the show for Rogers and the making of the show by Rogers and his crew, most of whom were local to Pittsburgh and stayed with the program for years. We also learn of Rogers' academic background in childhood development and educational theory and practice, through his formal seminary education and daily informal sessions with highly respected professor Margaret McFarland. This is one Neighborhood that that was well-planned. With rising popularity among kids and parents came celebrity, satire, and scrutiny. Mister Rogers' presentation at the US Senate Pastore hearing on PBS funding in 1969 convinced the curmudgeonly Pastore to retain the $20 million PBS funding. His appearances on talk shows with Arsenio Hall and Joan Rivers on the Tonight Show became legendary, as did numerous unscheduled and unscripted meetings with children and parents outside of the studio where Rogers carried out his ministry one on one. He was no saint, but he never abandoned his mission or his audience, taking on serious issues like racism, death, and divorce in planned week-long series of shows. I was reminded of this just before writing this review when reminiscing with my sister and my 85-year-old father. I had heard the story many times before: when I was 4 I was in the hospital deathly sick with quincy, and the doctor had told my parents that he had done as much as he could so if my parents believed in prayer they should pray. My sister said she remembered , and my father confirmed, that my parents called her and my brother, then 8 and 10 years old, into the room and told them this as they prayed together. I recovered, of course, and I think Fred Rogers would have approved such an honest and compassionate approach to a such a difficult time for my siblings. His legacy continues and indeed has grown since Rogers died in 2003. The old Neighborhood shows of course are still available, and his organization produces new shows like "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood". His approach to child educational and psychological development and education is still valued, and as our culture and media has coarsened, is more necessary than ever. The Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College in Latrobe houses both memorabilia and continuing research into childhood education, and Idlewild Park in nearby Ligonier offers a trolley ride into the Neighborhood of Make Believe with all the familiar puppets. Did Fred Rogers change the world? It was a question he asked himself in moments of self-doubt, and the answer was clear then and now: he didn't save the world (no one human could) but a world with Fred Rogers is far better than a world where he never lived. See the documentary, read this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ramona Mead

    This is an important book. Mr. Roger's influence on generations of children (and adults) is acknowledged, yet until now I don't believe he has been fully understood. Learning about his family history and upbringing makes his journey even more remarkable. This biography is incredibly thorough, almost too much so, at times the details redundant. It's a dense history of Mr. Rogers' legacy, and perhaps could have been condensed a bit to be more accessible to a reader with casual interest. The writin This is an important book. Mr. Roger's influence on generations of children (and adults) is acknowledged, yet until now I don't believe he has been fully understood. Learning about his family history and upbringing makes his journey even more remarkable. This biography is incredibly thorough, almost too much so, at times the details redundant. It's a dense history of Mr. Rogers' legacy, and perhaps could have been condensed a bit to be more accessible to a reader with casual interest. The writing is concise and provides a positive, uplifting portrait of this wonderful man and all that he has contributed to our society. Many thanks to NetGalley for my advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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