Today in Pennsylvania people are celebrating "143 Day" in an homage to hometown hero Fred Rogers, aka Mister Rogers. Why 143? The significance of the number for Rogers was "...there is one digit in “I,” four in “love” and three in “you.” --and May 23rd is the 143rd day of the year. Maybe down the road we'll just call it Mister Rogers' Day, but for now, whatever you call it, the goal is to inspire acts of kindness among neighbors.
There's been a huge surge of interest in Fred Rogers, due in large part to the documentary film and bestselling biography that came out last year. The momentum is not slowing either, with more books for kids and adults on the way and a movie coming out this fall starring Tom Hanks.
Watching the documentary really opened my eyes to how forward-thinking Rogers was, and how truly remarkable Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was, highlighting diversity and tackling difficult topics. And we're talking about a children's show that began in 1968 and ran until 2001. I watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood growing up and can still remember Fred Rogers' soothing voice and slightly disheveled looking puppets. Most of all I remember Mister Rogers talking about things like being scared, being jealous, saying I love you, in a way that I could hear. Rogers cared deeply about children, every single one of them, and I really wish he was still around to help our kids deal with the issues of today.
One of the ways Rogers connected with kids was through his songs and poems. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers is a collection of 75 of these lyrical gems, each one lovingly illustrated by Luke Flowers. For you audio listeners, celebrated actor Jon Lithgow reads for the audio edition. Below are two of the featured songs from A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Sing along if you like and happy 143 Day to you, neighbor.
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