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April 24, 2024

When You Wonder, You’re Learning: A Journey with Mister Rogers

Avery Crews Prado de Lima, TPF Fellow 2023/24

Imagine more than one thousand people across the Suncoast region, meeting in houses, offices, and restaurants, sipping coffee, and sharing snacks, all while discussing When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids. The When You Wonder Book Circle Project, generously funded by The Patterson Foundation, brought together parents, educators, and curious community members, sparking conversations that rippled through our four-county region. Co-author Ryan Rydzewski visited the Suncoast in the fall to introduce the community to the book circle project, igniting “aha!” moments and forming connections with participants.

In the book, co-authors Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski explore the essential “tools for learning” that Mister Rogers championed. These tools—curiosity, empathy, creativity, and wonder—go beyond academics. They shape well-rounded individuals by fostering social-emotional well-being. Beyond the red cardigan, Mister Rogers was a pioneer in child development. He wove psychology, pedagogy, and research into his television program, leaving a lasting impact on generations. And in the region’s book circles, more than 1,000 people explored how these tools could transform the lives of children and adults.

The book circle project kicked off in September, and on January 24, 2024, Gregg and Ryan traveled to Sarasota to attend the When You Wonder, You’re Learning Book Circle Celebration. With more than 300 book circle leaders and participants in attendance, the event was a testament to the power of curiosity, community, caring, and wonder. The event provided attendees the opportunity to live the very ideas that they read in the book alongside their fellow participants, friends, and neighbors. Throughout the event, participants were invited to ask questions, wonder, and learn. Teachers exchanged stories, parents shared parenting hacks, and grandparents reminisced about their own Mister Rogers moments. The celebration event highlighted the important fact that it’s not just about the book; it’s the magic that happens when people connect over stories.

While this iteration of the book circle project has come to an end, the opportunities to celebrate curiosity, kindness, and the enduring legacy of Mister Rogers have not. You can sign up to host a book circle and take part in this journey of connection and wonder here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to TPF Fellow Avery Crews Prado de Lima.


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