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Mr. Rogers, in times of culture war

Written by on Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading uses Mr. Rogers’ lessons to animate children to learn.

By Ryan Stanley

Original Air Date: Dec. 6, 2023

Host: Ryan Stanley has the scoop on a book club that sprung up to cover the pandemic schooling gap. But the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, acceptance and inclusivity have taken on an entirely new meaning in the light of book bans.

Ryan Stanley: Fred Rogers, well known for his kindness, his caring manner in talking with children, and the way he would start each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood by changing into comfortable shoes and one of his trademark sweaters, was also a pioneer in child development, using the platform of television to bring forth the latest findings from the learning sciences.

Like many of my generation, I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on our local PBS channel. So when I was invited to participate in the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s When You Wonder, You’re Learning Book Circle Project, I jumped on the trolley toward the land of make believe.

[Trolley Sound]

When You Wonder, You’re Learning – Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids, authored by Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski, draws inspiration from the beloved children’s show and everyone’s favorite neighbor, Mister Rogers.

The author explains:

Ryan Rydzewski: So over the last three months, that is what my book circle and dozens of other book circles across the Suncoast have done. We wondered, ‘how can we use the wisdom of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood to increase curiosity, creativity, communication, community, growth, and connection in our own neighborhoods?’ And we came up with some great answers!

RS: The next step is taking what we’ve learned and applying it to the 2024 Remake Learning Days Festival – a multi-day, community-wide, free, hands-on learning festival for families and kids, created by hundreds of organizations, businesses, teachers, artists, scientists, and others who create shared learning experiences for kids and their caregivers.

My book circle mate Jesse Coleman is ready.

Jesse Coleman:

During the 2024 Suncoast Remake Learning Days Festival, from Saturday, April 20, through Saturday, May 4, Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties will come together for 15 consecutive days. The free workshops, activities, and interactive sessions are designed around the core ideas of When You Wonder. But this event isn’t just for kids. It’s a community-wide celebration that invites everyone to participate. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or just a lifelong learner, there’s something for everyone. Kids and grownups alike will find themselves immersed in hands-on learning experiences, from science experiments to art projects, all inspired by the lessons from the book.

So, mark your calendars! The 2024 Suncoast Remake Learning Days are just around the corner. And in the meantime, dive into When You Wonder, You’re Learning, and discover the joy of learning with Mr Rogers all over again.

This has been Ryan Stanley, for WSLR News.


WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.