When You Wonder, You're Learning

Mister Rogers' Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids


By Gregg Behr

By Ryan Rydzewski

Foreword by Joanne Rogers

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Bring the lessons of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood into the digital age, as this book helps guide parents to raise more creative, curious and caring kids—from the founder of the acclaimed education network Remake Learning.
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.



Even by Pittsburgh’s frigid November standards, it was cold out there.

But I didn’t mind very much, despite my inner Floridian. I was due that day to visit the neighborhood hospital. And though hospital visits aren’t typically cause for cheer, least of all for little old ladies like me, I knew this one would be different. I knew this one would be special.

I put on a cardigan—one of his—and zipped it against the chill.

The hospital’s atrium was already full. The room fell quiet as I pushed through the door, and someone sat down at the lobby’s piano and played a familiar chord. Then, all at once, the doctors and nurses started to sing.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor…

What music! The old lyrics filled the lobby, sounding almost new. I stopped, as I always do, to sing along.

Afterward, in the hospital nursery, I met the reason for my visit: Six newborn babies, all dressed in tiny red sweaters and little blue booties made to match my late husband’s shoes. Six little Freds, brand new to the world, with so much to wonder and learn. I loved them from the moment we met.

Maybe you saw the pictures. It was a big to-do, staged to celebrate World Kindness Day and the sixty-fifth anniversary of WQED, the television station where Fred had made Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The pictures made their way to the internet, and social media did what social media does. By the end of the day, the whole country loved those babies, and I think I know why.

Pittsburgh, you see, wasn’t the only place that was cold that day. Half the nation had frozen solid. The front page of the New York Times said that in McAllen, Texas, temperatures fell from ninety-two degrees to just thirty-one, all in a couple of hours! The other words on the page—eviction, hate crime, brutality, and Sandy Hook, among them—said all there was to say about the temperature of everything else.

It was November 13, 2019: World Kindness Day in a world where kindness is hard to find. Where more and more people feel hardened and messed up, whether by politics or poverty or the ever-growing gulfs between our neighbors and ourselves. As Fred’s wife of fifty-one years, I’m often asked what he’d think about this—this coldness that’s crept across our country. And I always say the same thing: Fred Rogers would think, first and foremost, about the children.

I think those tiny babies made us stop and do the same. I think they showed us that despite the cold, kindness and warmth can endure. Swaddled in their sweaters, they showed us that even though Fred had gone to heaven some time ago, he’d left us the Neighborhood’s blueprints. And we could rebuild it wherever we’d like—even in a hospital nursery on a frigid November day.

In 1920, a Frenchman named Antoine de Saint-Exupéry enrolled at the Beaux-Arts school in Paris, hoping to become an architect. He dropped out before he finished his studies, but he’d learned enough about blueprints to pen the most memorable line in The Little Prince, a novella he published many years later. “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux,” Saint-Exupéry wrote. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Fred loved The Little Prince, and he loved that quote best of all. He loved it so much that he hung it in his office. Reading it now, Saint-Exupéry’s quote puts me in mind of a house: We call an old house beautiful when its wood is polished and fine, when it’s furnished with well-made things, when there’s art on the walls and the garden’s in bloom. But what’s essential about the house is almost always hidden from view. We don’t see the minds that dreamed it or the labor that built it. We don’t see the nuts and bolts that brace it or the love that lives in its rooms. And if we ever want to rebuild it—or add a modern wing—then we have to grasp its design. We have to get into the crawl spaces and pull up the carpets and have a look at what’s beneath.

We have to go back to its blueprints.

You might say the same of the Neighborhood. So much of what made the program essential was invisible to the camera, built so carefully into Fred’s scripts and songs that you’d never know it was there. When Fred put on a sweater at the start of each episode, we only knew that it made us feel safe. We never saw the hours he spent with scientists and teachers and experts in child development, engineering that very feeling. When he took us to visit a factory, we only knew that we’d gone somewhere fun. We never saw it as part of a plan to nourish curiosity, encourage creativity, and show us that right down to our favorite crayons, the things we love about life come from our fellow neighbors. Grasping these intentions—and the designs that helped Fred fulfill them—is key to rebuilding the Neighborhood.

Lots of people are doing that now, each in their own way. People tell me that Fred is as popular today as he was when he was alive! And doesn’t that makes sense? Who better to turn to when kindness seems lacking than the kindest person we’ve known? Who better to beat back the cold than the man in a cardigan sweater?

As his wife, of course, I find it marvelous. I sometimes say that I’m the luckiest widow in Pittsburgh. Every day, I can be close to him. I can put on his old sweaters or sing his old songs or meet adorable little babies in a nursery. I’m grateful. And when I consider the lives that my husband has touched, I’m grateful even more.

But sometimes I worry.

I worry that as the world grows meaner, kindness like Fred’s can look less and less attainable. I worry we’ll forget that Fred was just as human as we are. We’ll forget that he sometimes had doubts, that he sometimes felt defeated, that he sometimes felt angry. We’ll forget that he wasn’t a saint.

Don’t get me wrong: Fred was the same in real life as he was on television. The Fred you saw on the Neighborhood was the Fred you saw on the street and the Fred I saw at home. That’s just who he was—Fred always gave his authentic self.

I mean only that there was nothing magic about him. There were no miracles in the Neighborhood. Everything you saw and everything you felt stemmed from his deliberate efforts and designs. He made kindness look easy, but even for Fred, kindness was anything but. “Try your best to make goodness attractive,” he liked to say. “That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.”

If we can say anything about my husband, it’s that he accepted that assignment every hour of his life. No one worked harder at being Fred Rogers than Fred Rogers himself. I trust that this won’t diminish his aura—in my opinion, the extent of his efforts only makes him more remarkable. But we ought to resist holding him up beyond the reach of us mortals. Because the truth of Fred’s ministry was that every last one of us can be as caring, kind, and influential in children’s lives as he was. Every last one of us can do a version of what Fred did.

That’s why this book is so important, and why I’m so delighted that Gregg and Ryan wrote it. When You Wonder, You’re Learning explores what’s essential about the Neighborhood, making it visible to parents, teachers, and anyone else who cares about children. It breaks down the tools for learning that Fred taught and the reasons they’re still significant. It contains, in a very real sense, the blueprints my husband left us, and it introduces the people building Neighborhoods of their own: places where kindness and warmth endure, despite the cold that creeps outside. Places where children are cared for and safe, even when the wind kicks up and the temperature starts to fall.

Back at the hospital that frigid November day, I asked the parents of those six beautiful babies if they were nervous to go home. Invariably, their answer was yes. Who could blame them? Beyond that nursery was parenthood: a state of astonishment, joy, and the nagging feeling that you’re royally screwing it up. Even friendly advice can be nerve-racking. Fred himself felt that too many tips led to anxiety and overthinking.

So instead I offered the simplest, truest thing I know: Being there for each other and supporting each other is what it’s all about.

This is a book about the many ways we can do that.

Once, in the 1970s, Fred asked me to appear on his program, just as I’d had a handful of times before. On cue, I knocked on his television door and crossed his make-believe threshold. I said I was happy to be back in the Neighborhood again, and I was.

I still am.

“It gives me a good feeling,” Fred told his television neighbors, “to know that I can be with her.”

Well, Fred, it gives me a good feeling to know that you’re with us now—in these old sweaters of yours, in those six newborn babies, and in the six chapters of this beautiful book.

Joanne Rogers

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

August 2020


When You Wonder, You’re Learning


Even by the standards of this particular Neighborhood—where a tiger lives in a clock, polka dots litter the streets, and a trolley travels from another dimension—it’s an admittedly curious scene.

King Friday XIII, the long-suffering sire of Make-Believe, is furious. He’s just been pranked by two purple pandas: creatures who speak in robotic tones and flaunt their simple superpower. (The pandas can appear and disappear with a snap of their fingers.) Identical except for their height, the pandas use their power to trick the tortured ruler, causing Friday to confuse the taller panda for the shorter one, if only for a moment.

Of course, in most puppets, a harmless stunt like this one would fail to inspire outrage.

But King Friday XIII is not most puppets.

“I don’t like being fooled like that,” he declares, projecting as much anger as his puppet master can muster. King Friday isn’t a villain, exactly—he’s a reactionary and sometimes inept, but he tends to give wickedness a wide berth. He’s a musician, a poet, and a former pole-vaulter—a true renaissance king—and he’s even been known to show kindness. Once, upon meeting a starving magician, he established the King Friday Queen Sara Saturday Royal Foundation for the Performing Arts, or KFQSSRFFTPA for short.

But like any autocrat, King Friday has his flaws. He’s vain, he’s insecure, and most of all, he doesn’t like to be fooled.

And this time, he won’t get fooled again. “I shall make a rule,” he declares.

By now, Make-Believe’s subjects know the drill: King Friday forbids whatever foils his moods and whims. Over the years, he’s outlawed harmonicas, bare hands, bad feelings, play, and puppets who don’t look like him, all with varying degrees of success. Friday’s decrees are almost always short-lived—usually, he changes his mind or simply forgets as he tends to other kingly concerns.

In this scene, though, he makes a rule so egregious—so contrary to the nature of Make-Believe—that to follow it would threaten the Neighborhood itself. Not only would it stilt Make-Believe’s progress and dim its denizens’ futures, it would drain the joy out of life and make learning impossible, condemning the Neighborhood to stagnation, decay, and the slow-moving horrors of indifference.

But in a moment of humiliation and shortsightedness, King Friday XIII issues his edict anyway.

“Cancel. All. Curiosity.”

This scene—scripted by and starring Fred Rogers in a late-stage, turn-of-the-millennium episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—is more than just make-believe. Kicking off a five-part series about curiosity, the image of a king trying to suppress his people’s questions has roots in real life: Throughout history, countless rulers have sought to cancel curiosity themselves. As any tyrant knows, the less inquisitive a society is, the less free it becomes.

In 1937, the Nazis staged the infamous Degenerate Art exhibition, where more than seven hundred works of modern art were defaced and ridiculed. Actors posing as critics wandered through the crowds, loudly proclaiming that modern art—a style that invites interpretation by provoking questions—was not art at all, but rather a product of mental illness and Jewish perversion. As a result, many of the exhibition’s attendees left less willing to question how the Nazis treated their neighbors.

It’s a tactic that’s been used for centuries. During China’s Cultural Revolution, militants destroyed libraries to eradicate opposing ideas. In the United States, schools were first burned and bombed, then segregated and budget-starved to prevent Black children from learning. In the antebellum South, enslaved people caught with books were beaten or killed. Campaigns to cancel curiosity stretch all the way back to antiquity: Consider the cautionary tale of ancient Greeks succumbing to the Sirens. Or Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, dooming mankind by tasting the forbidden fruit. Or Lot and his family fleeing the biblical city of Sodom, forbidden by God to look back. (When Lot’s wife gives into her curiosity and sneaks a final glance, she’s transformed into a pillar of salt.)

“To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way [one] achieves his own identity,” said the writer James Baldwin. “But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around. What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society.”

Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that some of our oldest stories and sayings suggest ambivalence—or even outright hostility—toward the inquisitive. Curiosity leads to exploration. Exploration leads to questions, and questions threaten the status quo.

Curiosity is power.

And when that power is cultivated, it can change lives, topple dictators, and even reshape the planet. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, for example, one of humanity’s predecessors had a question. Homo erectus wouldn’t have called it that; the invention of words was still a long way off. But somewhere on an African savanna, or in a cave on the Sinai Peninsula, a mystery appeared: What might happen, our ancestor wondered, if I picked up those rocks over there and bashed them together?

Thus began one of the most important experiments of all time. According to one theory, the discovery of fire gave way to cooking and better nutrition, which led to the doubling of hominid neurons. Equipped with unprecedented brainpower, humans grew more and more sophisticated, learning to talk to one another, to build societies and cities, and to spread out across the globe. They developed ideas—that the Earth is six thousand years old, or that cavities are caused by tiny worms in our teeth—and replaced those ideas with better ones through science. They invented music, medicine, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. They even left the planet, launching a Martian rover that—perhaps out of gratitude—they called Curiosity.

Best of all, our predecessors passed this power to us. Nearly every human being is born curious. Babies as young as nine weeks old tend to focus on what’s new and unfamiliar rather than what’s constant or routine. Before they learn to speak, they learn to point: “A baby’s way of saying ‘tell me’ is to point to an object while looking at her mother,” writes Ian Leslie, author of Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It. As toddlers, kids become dogged investigators, asking why at every opportunity. Curiosity is so ubiquitous—so fundamental to who we are as a species—that psychologists put it on par with the drive to eat, sleep, and reproduce. Not only is it “the linchpin of intellectual achievement,” as one scientist puts it, evidence suggests that curiosity will only grow more essential in coming decades.

But there’s a catch. While almost all of us are born curious, far fewer actually stay that way. Curiosity can fade shockingly fast; disparities emerge even among babies, growing wider over time. It doesn’t take a tyrant to cancel curiosity—even the most well-meaning adult can dim a child’s desire to know. If curiosity isn’t nurtured, it tends to be “transitory, to die out, or to wane in intensity,” wrote the philosopher John Dewey in 1910. “In a few people, intellectual curiosity is so insatiable that nothing will discourage it, but in most, its edge is easily dulled and blunted.”

That’s a problem, especially today. It’s been estimated that today’s young people could change jobs as many as fifteen times over the course of their lifetimes and that many of their jobs will require work that hasn’t been invented. The future will require today’s young people to forge careers that cross sectors and industries, requiring constant learning. Those without the ability or desire to keep up could find themselves automated out of a job or otherwise left behind. Meanwhile, the curious will be rewarded.

It’s happening already. Consider the priorities of any number of leaders and intellectuals: Apple CEO Tim Cook seeks employees with “obsessive curiosity.” Addressing a crowd of college graduates, Oprah Winfrey said this: “I wish you curiosity.” Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, when asked about their success, both credited their desire to learn more about the world. And Ta-Nehisi Coates, the National Book Award–winning writer, has described himself as “irrepressible in terms of my curiosities.”

The list goes on, but curiosity’s value extends far beyond wealth or professional success. Curious people can question their circumstances and fight for something better. They can appreciate the world’s marvels and the importance of conservation. Above all, curious people are learners: people who can look closely at an orange blossom or a mural or a fellow human being and wonder.

What Curiosity Can Do

“Did you know?” Fred Rogers used to sing. “Did you know when you wonder, you’re learning?”

Throughout the Neighborhood’s thirty-one-season run, Rogers served as curiosity’s most famous televangelist, nurturing children’s inquisitiveness in ways that—when viewed from today’s world of pinging phones and breaking news—can seem almost quaint. Pick any episode at random and you might find Rogers exploring a pinwheel, or carefully drawing a rainbow, or narrating a documentary about citrus farms. He makes a point, again and again, of telling viewers how many questions he has and how much he wants to know about the world. He’s so genuinely interested in everything that viewers can’t help but be interested, too. And when he looks at the camera and asks if you’ve ever wondered how people make crayons or if you’ve yearned to visit an eraser factory, you surprise yourself by how quickly you think, Yes!

Thinkers, teachers, and scientists have long been interested in the power of wonder. From Jean Piaget to B. F. Skinner, psychologists have probed curiosity’s origins; today, behavioral scientists and neuroscientists are shedding new light on its functions. But even before the advent of modern learning science, Rogers seemed to sense that curiosity drives learning—a thesis that brain scans and studies are now confirming in droves. Consider these lines from “Did You Know?” a song Rogers debuted in 1979:

Did you know? Did you know?

Did you know that it’s all right to wonder?

There are all kinds of wonderful things!

You can ask a lot of questions about the world

And your place in it.

You can ask about people’s feelings;

You can learn the sky’s the limit.

Did you know? Did you know?

Did you know when you wonder, you’re learning?

Did you know when you marvel, you’re learning

About all kinds of wonderful,

All kinds of marvelous,

Marvelously wonderful things?

Like so much of Rogers’ work, “Did You Know?” was inspired by his childhood. “Fred McFeely, his maternal grandfather, was wonderfully supportive of Fred’s sense of curiosity, his sense of learning, and his sense of exploration,” says Maxwell King, author of The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers. “Fred McFeely understood that the most natural thing in the world for a child is to be exploring and learning and wondering about how the world works and how one fits in.”

When Rogers was young, for example, he was curious about where kittens came from. While questions about reproduction sometimes strike fear in the hearts of parents, Fred McFeely had an idea: He’d let little Freddy watch a cat give birth. The experience satisfied Rogers’ curiosity in a developmentally appropriate way, with a trusted adult—his grandfather—serving as a guide. “I’ll always remember that as a wonderful time,” Rogers later said. “[My grandfather] helped me to understand it so well, and he told me, ‘You know, Freddy, it’s all right to wonder about things and ask about things.’”

Watching a cat give birth might seem like a strange thing to remember several decades after the fact. It might seem odder, still, that Rogers would show his viewers another cat doing exactly the same thing. But the reality is that this is stuff kids wonder about, and according to learning scientists, Rogers was right: When kids wonder, they are learning—or at least they’re far more likely to.

“Inciting children’s curiosity is the best way to ensure that they will absorb and retain information,” writes psychologist Susan Engel, one of the world’s leading experts on curiosity’s development. In 2009, a team of Caltech researchers demonstrated this by posing a series of trivia questions to a group of volunteers. They asked participants to guess the answers to the questions and rate their level of curiosity about each—that is, to tell the researchers how much they wanted to know the answers. Later, the volunteers were shown each question again, followed by the correct response. The research team watched their brains light up via functional magnetic resonance imaging—in effect, watching the volunteers’ brains process information in real time.

They found that when volunteers were curious, their brains indicated “the type of feeling you have before the curtain goes up on a play you have wanted to see for a long time,” writes author Mario Livio. “The researchers also found that when the correct answer was revealed to the subjects, the regions of the brain that were significantly energized were those typically associated with learning, memory, and language comprehension and production.”

In other words, the more curiosity that participants reported feeling—the more they wondered—the more powerfully their brains were primed for learning.

On one hand, this might not surprise you. Anyone who has ever struggled to stay awake during a boring presentation knows how difficult it can be to learn information that doesn’t pique your interest. On the other hand, the Caltech study allowed scientists to measure just how much difference curiosity can make: Ten days later, when asked to recall what they’d learned, participants more easily answered the questions they’d been curious about. This helps explain why Rogers never forgot watching the birth of those kittens.

A later study from the University of California at Davis found an even more surprising benefit. When participants were highly curious about the information in front of them, they also more easily learned other information, even when it was unrelated. As one researcher put it, “Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and return any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it.”

When you wonder, you’re learning, indeed.

Such findings should be great news for parents, teachers, and anyone else concerned with children’s learning. Since kids are naturally curious, harnessing their desire to ask and answer questions should be a no-brainer. Now that we know just how powerful curiosity can be, we’d expect learning environments to be like little laboratories—places where it’s all right to wonder; where kids explore the whats and hows and whys of the problems that intrigue them; and where their brains light up day in and day out, making schools and libraries and museums the most joyful places on the planet.

And in a few lucky places, that’s exactly what’s happening. At the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Jason Brown stands beneath a towering, room-size replica of the human brain, full of twinkling lights that map the constellations of neurons that carry our thoughts and feelings. All around him, the center’s three-foot visitors dart from exhibit to exhibit, their parents struggling to keep up. One presses a button that says, “Why Do I Fart?” letting out a long recording of human flatulence. Shrieks of discovery and delight ring throughout the building.

“Sometimes we forget that learning is supposed to be fun,” says Brown. It’s something the center’s director knows from experience: As a kid, he had no particular love for science. “I remember doing formulas for reactions of acids and bases in school, and never once did I think, ‘Wow, this is amazing,’” he says. It wasn’t until he mixed ammonia and Drano at home—a mixture that exploded in his driveway—that he developed an interest. “I think I just needed to see some destruction,” he says, laughing. “After that, I was hooked.”


  • "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

On Sale
Apr 20, 2021
Page Count
272 pages
Hachette Go

Gregg Behr

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.

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Ryan Rydzewski

About the Author

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, Jaqueline.

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