Bringing the lessons of Mister Rogers into the digital age
Playful and practical, When You Wonder, You're Learning introduces a new generation of families to the lessons of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. By exploring the science behind the iconic television program, the book reveals what Fred Rogers called the “tools for learning”: skills and mindsets that scientists now consider essential. These tools—curiosity, creativity, collaboration, and more—have been shown to boost everything from academic learning to children’s well-being, and they benefit kids of every background and age. They cost next to nothing to develop, and they hinge on the very things that make life worthwhile: self-acceptance; close, loving relationships; and a deep regard for one’s neighbor.
When You Wonder, You're Learning shows parents and educators the many ways they might follow in Rogers’ footsteps, sharing his “tools for learning” with digital-age kids. With insights from thinkers, scientists, and teachers—many of whom worked with Rogers himself—the book is an essential exploration into how kids and their parents can excel at what Rogers taught best: being human.
About the Author
Gregg Behr is a father, children’s advocate, and director for the Grable Foundation whose work has drawn comparisons to his hero, Fred Rogers. For more than a decade, he has helped lead Remake Learning—a network of educators, scientists, artists, and makers he founded in 2007—to international renown. Formed in Rogers’ real-life neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Remake Learning has turned heads everywhere from Forbes to the World Economic Forum for its efforts to ignite children’s curiosity, encourage creativity, and foster justice and belonging in schools, libraries, museums, and more. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and also Duke University, Gregg holds honorary degrees from Carlow University and Saint Vincent College. He’s an advisor to the Brookings Institution and the Fred Rogers Center, and has been cited by Barack Obama, Richard Branson, and the Disruptor Foundation as an innovator and thought leader. Twitter: @greggbehr
Ryan Rydzewski is a writer whose science and education reporting has garnered several awards and fellowships. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he taught elementary school in south Louisiana before earning an MFA in nonfiction writing from Chatham University. As a freelancer, his magazine stories focus on everything from schools to space travel to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and his poems and other pieces appear in several journals. A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Ryan lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Jacqueline. Twitter: @ryanrydzewski
"If you learned about life from Fred Rogers’ example, the better off you are. His beloved Neighborhood was a place of curiosity and kindness, of simple joys found in a complicated, yet safe world. Each of us has a role to play in building Neighborhoods of our own. What Behr and Rydzewski have done here is bring Fred Rogers' essential humanity down to earth. That is a gift for all in the Neighborhood."—Tom Hanks, Academy Award-winning actor and star of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
"In an era of polarization, distrust, and despair, the resilience of children stands as a universal beacon of hope for a new, better society. Fred Rogers understood our obligation to nourish that spark of imagination, kindness, and community, and When You Wonder, You’re Learning distills how each of us can continue those efforts. Whether you are a parent, a caregiver, a teacher, or a neighbor, authors Behr and Rydzewski have penned a necessary primer on how to cultivate awe-inspiring kids capable of being more than we imagine."—Stacey Abrams, politician, activist, and author
"One of the first things people wonder about Fred Rogers is whether he could possibly be as kind and warm in person as he seemed to be on television. When they learn that he was all those things and more, their response almost always gives way to reverence—for the person who liked them exactly as they were. When You Wonder, You're Learning is an essential exploration of how Rogers designed his most remarkable, enduring gift: the Neighborhood's unconditional insistence on humanity, its dignity, and its worth."—Morgan Neville, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and director of Won't You Be My Neighbor?
"In this book, Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski have accomplished an amazing feat: they have sequenced the human creative genome. They reveal how the DNA strands of curiosity, communication, and collaboration were interwoven in the miracle of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And how parents and educators can transmit this DNA from themselves to children who will become loving parents, confident professionals, and caring citizens. At this point in our nation’s—indeed, the world’s—history, there is nothing more important."—Dr. Milton Chen, Executive Director Emeritus, George Lucas Educational Foundation
"Recent films, biographies and tributes have attempted to capture the kindness and genius of Fred Rogers. When You Wonder, You’re Learning is a beautiful complement to all that has been written, as it looks beyond the man to peel back the curtain and reveal the science used by Fred, and others who have followed, to inspire the development of caring and empathetic children into whose hands our future rests. I cannot imagine a more important time for a book such as this."—Paula Kerger, President and CEO, PBS
"When You Wonder, You’re Learning is a compelling, beautifully written call for seeing, supporting, and loving the individual complexities of every human being, whether they’re kids or adults, our own children or a neighbor’s. Living up to the kindness and humanity that Fred Rogers embodied will never be easy, but with this essential book—full of fascinating science and moving scenes from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—Behr and Rydzewski have given us the tools."—Dr. Todd Rose, former director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at Harvard University and bestselling author of The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness
"Gregg and Ryan study the way Mr. Rogers communicated. Somehow, when Mr. Rogers talked to the TV camera, he was listening to what we all wonder about— and listening would be good for all of us, no matter what family we’re part of, what we do for a living. With the instant communication available today, you might think that we are more in touch with each other than ever. The authors show that’s just not the case. They also show that Mr. Rogers and all the characters in his neighborhood had a way of listening that could change the world." —Bill Nye, Science Educator, CEO The Planetary Society
"Building on the legacy of an incomparable humanist, Pittsburgh’s Mister Rogers, When You Wonder, You're Learning will inform you, inspire you, change how you engage with children, and flat out make you a better person. It's a brilliant, stirring exposition on the vital role of humanism in educating our children, and it strikes at issues near and dear to any teacher, parent, or policymaker. I loved every word of it."—Ted Dintersmith, education philanthropist and author of What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America
"I’m so grateful to Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski. When You Wonder, You’re Learning brings me back to the days of sitting with Fred in his office, bowled over by the depth of his philosophy, and inspired by his urgent and radical message of love. Here are two authors who get it, who have the courage to try to explain it, who demonstrate their mastery of Fred’s message in the craftsmanship of the work itself. Beautifully constructed, full of deeply researched and well-earned wisdom, When You Wonder, You’re Learning is a dazzling accomplishment that offers a much-needed wake-up call about the enduring strength of the human spirit."—Jeanne Marie Laskas, New York Times bestselling author of Concussion and To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope
"The enduring legacy of Fred Rogers is based on a couple of things. One, of course, is his role as the greatest American exemplar of the deep, fundamental human values by which most people aspire to live. But the other reason is the extraordinary importance of Rogers as a teacher and his approach to learning. He understood that through their curiosity and sense of wonder, children offer the purest expression of the joy of learning. And so he focused not on facts and numbers, but on the natural, joyful instinct of children to inquire and to learn. When You Wonder, You’re Learning is a timely and powerful exploration of Rogers’ approach and will quickly become an important instrument for advancing learning and Fred's legacy. Its authors, Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski, have brought Fred Rogers the educator to life. We are indebted to them for adding this book to the body of Fred's teachings."—Maxwell King, senior fellow at the Fred Rogers Center and New York Times bestselling author of The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers
"When You Wonder, You’re Learning is a timely gem for anyone who supports the development of children of all ages. It is at once practical yet aspirational, affirming yet instructive. Chock full of research and anecdotes, it reminds us that the uniquely human traits of curiosity, creativity, kindness, and generosity are not only essential but attainable for fulfilling work and life. The exquisite weaving in of the stories of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood will conjure a powerful memory of Mister Rogers’ calm affirmation, 'I like you just the way you are.' I am in love with this book and can’t wait to give it to parents and teachers in my life!"—Karen Cator, former CEO, Digital Promise
"Want to be a better parent or teacher? When You Wonder, You’re Learning reveals in accessible and delightful ways how we—as grownups who care so very much about our kids’ tomorrows—might help them develop habits of mind and social awareness to handle what’s ahead. This book is spot-on; it’s a blueprint for our times."—Rebecca Winthrop, senior fellow and co-director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution
"Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski deftly blend the timeless parables from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and personal philosophies of Fred Rogers with contemporary examples of scientists and educators who are prioritizing the foundational social and emotional skills that are essential for learning, proving there’s always been a method to the kindness."—Paul Siefken, President and CEO, Fred Rogers Productions
“The unrelenting goodness of Mr. Rogers’ iconic television show is still felt today. Behr and Rydzewski reveal the humble wisdom of Mister Rogers in When You Wonder, You’re Learning. Through a blend of social science research, child development theory, and the life of Rogers himself, they illuminate the values of the Neighborhood. What better way to honor Rogers’ legacy than to give readers a road map for how to nurture and sustain genuine wonder in today’s children?” —Kyle Schwartz, teacher and author of, I Wish My Teacher Knew and I Wish for Change
"Mister Rogers is the essential role model for all teachers and parents. He taught us to admire, inspire, and raise confident kids. Behr and Rydzewski's engrossing book is a long overdue explanation of the scientific nuts and bolts behind the Neighborhood approach."—Jordan Shapiro, author of Father Figure and The New Childhood
"An engaging exploration of how the lessons of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood can be remade to suit today's children."—Michelle Anya Anjirbag, Shelf Awareness