I just want you to imagine a four year old little girl who would sit in front of the television and talk to Mister Rogers most every day. She learned how crayons were made, what to do with the “mad that she feels”, that there are “many ways to say I love you” and most importantly, she learned that Mister Rogers liked her just the way she was.
That little girl was ME.
Because of Mister Rogers, I grew up believing how powerful television can be for preschool children. I studied child developmental psychology, like Fred did, and I wanted to create interactive, educational shows that would help kids learn, just as Mister Roger’s Neighborhood did for me. As a result of being so influenced by him, I grew up to create Blue’s Clues for Nick Jr and Super Why for PBS Kids.
And now, my life has come full circle as I get to create Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. The four year old little girl in me gets to actually play in the Neighborhood of Make Believe! Like all the preschool fans of Mister Rogers out there (Hello! Let’s keep talking!), I had a story for all of the characters from the Neighborhood of Make Believe. I just knew that Daniel Tiger grew up, got married and had a son named Daniel. And Daniel wears a little red sweater and sneakers, just like Mister Rogers did! Daniel talks to kids at home and as a shy, sweet, four year old tiger, he is curious about the world. He is also most caring, and is learning and sharing with the children at home.
Joanne Rogers, the widow of Mister Rogers, has been the one that’s caused me to hold my breath, waiting to see what she thinks of all of the work we’ve put into this passionate endeavor. Waking up this morning, in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, I read Joanne say, “I was so excited because the old feeling is there. I think Angela Santomero really captured it and I almost cried because I felt such relief. I’d been anxious not knowing what to expect, but, oh, Daniel is just so cute. I can’t imagine everybody won’t love him, and I’m delighted…”
That four year old girl in me is singing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood….”