This has been a year of big emotions for everyone. Confusion, sadness, and anger come to mind but there have also been joyful, playful, and even silly times. Children need to understand that experiencing different emotions is okay. We all need
FRED’S BIG FEELINGS: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers
By Laura Renauld (author) and Brigitte Barrager (illustrator)
Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2020
picture book biography
Themes: Emotions, Children’s Television,
setting – Pittsburgh, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood
The story begins…
It’s a beautiful day. Come in.
Look around? What do you see?
This is the closet filled with Mr. Rogers’
cardigans. His mother knitted
each one! And here’s where he changes
his shoes. Sneakers are more comfy,
don’t you think?
Now settle in. Mr. Rogers is ready to visit with you!
You may know Mister Rogers as
America’s favorite television neighbor.
But before that…
In this fascinating and thoughtful biography, author Laura Renauld takes us back to Mr. Rodgers’ childhood where we meet Freddy, “a quiet boy with big feelings.” He was shy and because he had to stay inside due to asthma, often lonely. But Freddy learned to play the piano and was able to express his emotions through music. He was loved unconditionally by his family and his grandfather told him “You made this day a really special day just by being yourself… and I happen to like you just the way you are.”
Fred became more confident as he grew up and through a close friendship, he learned how encouragement can affect the life of another. Fred went to college to become a minister when television was just coming into American homes. Children’s programming was horrible. Fred Rogers realized that something better was needed and he was the man to make it happen. He created the childhood classic, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood where everyone was welcomed and accepted. He went to challenge the government to continue funding the show. Thank goodness!
Why you need to add FRED’S BIG FEELINGS: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers to your collection of picture books:
- Laura Renauld has cleverly focused on the feelings Fred felt, the same feelings that children experience. They are written in italic font as Mr. Rogers feels joyful, sad, playful, and welcoming. Details about Mr. Rogers are cleverly woven throughout the text.
- FRED’S BIG FEELINGS will help children to develop the vocabulary they need to express themselves and to understand that they are not alone.
- Brigette Barrager’s captivating illustrations are done with bright color and whimsical details that bring to light different aspects of Mr. Rogers’ compassionate personality. The illustration of Mr. Rogers addressing Congress is especially powerful.
- It is refreshing to be reminded of Mr. Rogers’ kindness, wise words, and conversations that he had with his various guests. He respected children and took their feelings seriously.
- We need Mr. Rogers more than ever during these times. I imagine that he would be talking with children about being afraid of the unknown. He’d probably even take a field trip to see how masks are made. We can all learn from Mr. Rogers and hopefully take his lessons to heart.
Enjoy this clip and interview showing how Mr. Rogers challenged racial inequity on television.