This year marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic children's series Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Hosted by the legendary Fred Rogers, a pioneer in broadcast television, the beloved series has taught generations of children about the importance of imagination, creativity and kindness.
As co-producer with The Fred Rogers Company, on the award-winning preschool show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, we thought it would be meaningful to share some of the valuable lessons our team has learned over the years, while creating a show inspired and built on the foundation of the original Mr. Rogers series!
Vadim Kapridov, Director - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
“My daughter was born in 2003, the year Fred Rogers passed, and so though she only watched reruns of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, she loved Fred, and it was her favourite program.
As a parent, I could see the immediate and undeniable effect of Fred's simple but powerful life lessons on my own kid.
On countless occasions a simple song or a phrase from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood would save our day and dry out tears over a broken toy, help overcome a difficulty in getting the drawing right, or start a string of questions about ways of nature. The magic effect Mister Rogers had on my daughter was his unique unhurried way of talking to a young audience, with a true respect and honesty, encouraging them to learn about themselves and the world around them.
I like to think I help to recreate this very special magic helping young kids learn and accept who they are as the director of Daniel Tigers' Neighborhood every day.”
Julie Soebekti, Producer - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
“Thanks to my work on Daniel Tiger, walking into a toddler's birthday has never been so much fun! When I tell people that I work on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, it's pretty neat to see great, big smiles spread across their faces.
Also, hearing from parents that, not only do their kids like the show, but the lessons learned are lifesavers, is pretty fantastic!
And finally, it’s a true honour to get to take part in teaching a new generation of kids the philosophies of Mr. Rogers, and share with them the important lesson of being kind and generous to one another.”
Baxter Merry, Producer - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
“I’m so much more than glad to be a part of the amazing team on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. I grew up on Mr Rogers. He taught me compassion, calm and creativity as we travelled on Trolley through the land of make believe.
Fred Rogers was a wonderfully rare person, as much an educator as an entertainer, and it is a wonderful thing to be a part of his continuing legacy. His Statement to Senate in 1969, proves the point. It is this point he made there, that taught me, got me, and gets me every time:
“I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health. I think that it's much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger—much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire. I'm constantly concerned about what our children are seeing, and for 15 years I have tried in this country and Canada, to present what I feel is a meaningful expression of care.” – Fred Rogers
This is what and why we make Daniel Tiger today; this shines through in the work of everyone on the team. And what’s wonderfully more: my daughter has fallen in love with Daniel Tiger, just as I did with Mr. Rogers. As I watch her be shaped, supported and soothed by the show, it is clear how fortunate I am to be a part of building the very neighborhood in which I once dreamed I might live.”
Vince Commisso, CEO 9 Story Media Group
“What I learned from from Mr. Rogers and Daniel Tiger:
- That every child is special just because they are who they are.
- How important it is for children to learn to deal with their emotions the first time they experience them.
- What a responsibility it is to model social/emotional development for 2 year olds.
- That breaking the 4th wall and talking to kids directly is something that comes with great responsibility and requires authenticity. You can’t fool kids.
We felt great responsibility to ensure that the special legacy of Fred Rogers was honored and, in turn were very aware of the fact Daniel had to be something special!”
Tammy Langton, Assistant Director/Shorts Director - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
“I watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood when I was a kid and remember it fondly. The lessons he taught have resonated with people of all ages for decades, dealing with often complex and layered topics, and feelings in a calm, approachable, and very human way. You always had a friend in Fred, and he liked you 'just the way you are'.
Working on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood has been a great learning experience and has felt very personal from the start. At first it was total nostalgia, but then it became so much more to be immersed in this world of imagination and emotions. Strategies from the show have helped people in my life, as well as myself, to look at and cope with challenging situations.
There are so many wonderful people working hard to carry on what Fred Rogers did for so long, each adding their own creativity, passion, and heart every step of the way. So many people inspired by Fred and inspiring each other.
I'm very proud of the show we make and to be a small part of the Fred Rogers legacy.”
Ricky Silva, Animation Supervisor - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
“I grew up watching Mr. Rogers on television as a child and I always appreciated his warm inviting nature and calm demeanor. The lessons he taught in compassion and acceptance of one another have definitely stayed with me into adulthood.
I never imagined that some 30 years later I’d have the opportunity to be working on an animated show that embodied all his same vision and morals, for a new generation, in a new medium.
I believe Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood really pays the truest homage to Fred Rogers, and I’m honoured to be a part of it from the beginning of its creation. Its success is proof that what Fred Rogers was doing, and now continues to do through this new medium, is as important and appreciated as it ever was.”
Tanya Green, VP of Production – Canada, Brown Bag Films
“It has been such an inspiring experience to work on a show that teaches our children how to grow to be great people. It's been an honour working with The Fred Rogers Company, who have such an immense passion in helping children grow. It's made my passion for kids television grow so much over the past few years, I always loved doing it, but I feel even more passionately about what I do.
I’ve also learned so much about teamwork, compassion, and the joy that is teaching kids key skills to help them be great people from the Fred Rogers team.
Becoming a mom while working on Daniel Tiger has given me even greater pride in what I do, as I see first-hand how special this show is, how kids connect with it, and what it means to be a part of something that has a positive impact on the world. (It's also really helped me be a better parent! Thank you for all those amazing strategies Daniel Tiger!!)
If you want to change the world, we have to start with the kids and Fred really understood that.”
Bill Tedford, Art Director - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
“Daniel's, just like Fred Rogers is using the medium as an educational tool to reach the audience in a very personable way.
I see this interaction first-hand every time I show very early versions of the episodes to my two young girls. Even at the animatic stage, my daughters are fully engaged with Daniel as he learns about his world and the people in it. Watching the girls apply the lessons on Daniel's in everyday life is very rewarding.”
Ilene Mitchell, Production Manager - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
“Being able to watch a show with my one-year-old and being proud to say 'mommy helped work on that'! That makes my job pretty cool.
It means a lot to be able to say you love your job, and working on Daniel Tiger makes it pretty easy.
First, I get to work with an incredible and dedicated team that, like me, have watched Mr. Rogers growing up. How many people can say they are continuing the work of their childhood hero?
While there are many shows out there that teach young kids about math, English, and science, it’s a completely different ball game to teach young kids how to assess their feelings and understand them. The strategies in our episodes can translate even to our adult life. I've even sung to myself “when you feel so mad that you want to roar…take a deep breath and count to four” a few times.
What Mr. Rogers has taught me:
“It’s what we do with our feelings that matter.”
Diane Aarts, Animation Supervisor - Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
“I'm so excited to be working on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood during the 50th anniversary of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. It's wonderful to see that even though so much has changed in our version, the messages are still the same. Every once in a while we'll teach something that makes me think “wow, this is something important for future adults to know.” Fred Rogers made everyone want to be more like him. More kind, more considerate, more compassionate. I'm happy with the lessons we've taught so far, and looking forward to the ones we have in the works.
One lesson in particular that stood out to me was “saying I'm sorry is the first step, then how can I help?” As Canadians we are quick to apologize, but the second step is just as important. May have bugged a friend or two with this one when they were struggling to solve a conflict.”
And now, celebrate Mr. Rogers' 50th with Daniel Tiger and Friends – Watch Our Tribute Playlist!
And for more Mr Rogers' fun check out these links: