Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center to Host Authors of Fred Rogers-Inspired Book
The book has been described as a “love letter to Pittsburgh”.
“When You Wonder, You Learn: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons in Raising Creative, Curious, and Caring Children” encompasses stories about residents of this town who emulate the late Fred Rogers – everyone’s favorite neighbor – in their own unique ways.
Authors Ryan Rydzewski of Aspinwall and Gregg Behr of Ohio Township were inspired to co-write the article by working with Remake Learningan initiative that connects with young people in the digital age by developing different ways to teach and engage young people through more relevant methods.
The writers noticed a connection between Remake Learning’s mission and Rogers’ teachings of WQED’s “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”.
“This city has some of the most caring and selfless people,” Rydzewski said. “Everyone has a Fred story. From the time he came to their house when they were sick to the time they randomly ran into him in an elevator. Stories tell the human experience.
the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh’s Strip District will host Rydzewski and Behr for an evening book discussion from 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday.
“We all had access to Fred through our televisions,” Rydzewski said. “He spoke to us through this television camera.”
Rogers’ late wife, Joanne, wrote the foreword.
There’s a commentary on the book cover by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, who played Rogers in the 2019 film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Hanks, who was spotted in Pittsburgh last week, is welcome to attend the event, Rydzewski said.
The book was launched last April. It is available online and in many local bookstores and will be released in paperback in October.
Rydzewski, a freelance writer, has expertise in science and educational reporting. He is a former elementary school teacher.
Behr is executive director of The Grable Foundationa downtown Pittsburgh-based grantmaking organization focused on helping young people, and co-chair of Remake Learning, which works with children to encourage their curiosity and creativity by drawing inspiration from schools, libraries and museums.
The two have collaborated on projects at the Grable Foundation and Remake Learning.
When choosing a topic, they looked up learning tools from Rogers. They refer to him as a learning scientist, someone who focuses on how children learn and applies those principles. The book has six chapters, which mimics a storyline from the WQED show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Rydzewski said.
One of the people featured in the book is Bill Strickland Jr., founder of Manchester Bidwell Corp., a toll-free workforce development for adults that offers certification in culinary arts, horticultural technology, chemical and allied health laboratory; and Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, an organization that helps young people with free courses in ceramics, design, digital studios and photography. He and Rogers were friends.
“It’s an amazing honor to be featured in this book for the work we do,” Strickland said via email. “The environment of Manchester Bidwell has changed the perception of how physical space can open up enormous opportunities for learning, and much of the inspiration behind our mission comes from the legacy of Fred Rogers.”
Other voices in the book came from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Science Center and the Women & Girls Foundation and Valerie Kinloch, dean of education at Pitt.
The book introduces families and educators to the lessons children of the digital age can learn from “Mister Rogers’ neighborhood.”
The authors will discuss their research for the book and how Rogers’ teachings continue to impact lives.
Rogers taught the whole child academically, socially and emotionally. His teaching lives on today.
“We all learned from him,” Rydzewski said. “There are Fred’s footsteps all over Pittsburgh.”
Pre-registration is recommended here.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 17 and under.
Cost includes access to the History Center exhibits prior to the event, including “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” featuring the original parlor decor and puppets from the legendary show.