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December 21, 2023

Oh, the Things We Have Wondered!

Avery Crews Prado de Lima, TPF Fellow 2023/24

In September of 2023, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading began a book circle project centered around When You Wonder, You’re Learning- Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids by Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski. At the six kick-off events, co-author Ryan Rydzewski and SCGLR Director Beth Duda invited community members to assemble book circles to read and discuss the book between September and the end of January.

As this iteration of the When You Wonder Book Circle Project concludes, I have the great privilege of looking back on the last six months and the 144 book circles the community formed. Throughout this experience, more than 1,000 community members in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties have engaged with each other to learn, share, and wonder as they explored the teachings of Mister Rogers and discussed how those lessons apply to their own lives. I understand the enthusiastic response to this project from the participants. Having read When You Wonder, You’re Learning a few times myself, this book connects with everyone and invites us to ask questions and operate in a manner that can be truly transformational for our communities.

I would like to share some of the feedback that we have received from hosts and participants of the book circles on their experience with the book and their circles.

  • “We agreed that this was an inspirational and wonderful book that allowed each of us to explore the past, present, and future through a different and changed lens.”
  • “This information validates some of the things we are already doing in the classroom.”
  • “There were many fabulous takeaways throughout our series of meetings, and we all felt the information was applicable to us in some fashion, even those of us who weren’t in a role of caretaking for small children.”
  • “This is a great read for parents.”
  • “This book was ideal in restoring some of the best practices to parents, caregivers, and teachers of today and that we need a modern-day Mr. Rogers.”
  • “It is sad that the academics are pushed on young children when their social, emotional, and artistic skills are what is most important.”
  • “Gregg and Ryan did an amazing job of presenting Fred Rogers’ love of learning in a book that is easy to read and comprehend.”

Each of these reflections showcases the impact of this book on a wide array of community members with a diverse span of careers and life experiences. All of us can learn from the teachings of this book and apply them in unique ways to our lives and our work.

While the book circle project is wrapping up, there are still opportunities to connect and learn together. Join us January 24th at Michael’s on East (Michael’s on East 1259 S. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34239) from 4:00-5:30pm for a celebration of the When You Wonder, You’re Learning Book Circle Project with co-authors Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski.


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