2018 is a big year for celebrating the life and work of Fred Rogers (1928 - 2003), Presbyterian minister, television writer and producer, puppeteer, piano player, and children's entertainment wizard. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his ground-breaking television show, and he is the focus of a biopicture being filmed starring Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers and a documentary by Morgan Neville.

Born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Fred Rogers began playing piano at an early age and graduated from Rollins College in Florida in 1951 with a degree in musical composition. Interested in child development and how television was being directed at children, he was hired to work in programming by WQED in Pittsburgh, a community TV station. He worked as a puppeteer on a local show called The Children's Corner.

Still not completely sure of the direction of his work in the rapidly growing medium of television, Rogers decided to study for the ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary; he was ordained a minister in the United Presbyterian Church in 1963. The church approved his desire to continue working in the media for children and families. In 1968, he became the creative mastermind behind Mister Roger's Neighborhood; he wrote the scripts and songs and served as the host, head puppeteer, and producer.

Those familiar with this staple of children's programming recall that every show began with Mister Rogers walking through the door of his television house and putting aside his raincoat and suit jacket for a zippered sweater. By 1984, one of his famous sweaters was put on exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Rogers wrote 200 songs for the show, including the theme "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." He served as chairman of a White House forum on child development and the mass media. Over the years, he was honored with numerous awards and acclaim for his steady and inspirational dedication to children via television.

This paperback includes a note by Fred Rogers to his readers. He explains that the contents have been gathered from his speeches, songs, newspaper columns, books, and television programs. There are eleven chapters covering relationships, childhood, creativity and play, learning. discipline, difficult situations, communicating, and more topics.

We were immensely impressed with this enlightening compilation of the spiritual wisdom of Fred Rogers and have put together this sampler of 20 quotations from the paperback.

"There's only one person in the whole world like you. If you think about it for a moment, there has never been . . . and there will never be — in the history of the earth — another person just like you."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

"We're all so much alike . . . and yet we're all so different! I find myself rejoicing at the endless variety of human beings and that's partly, I know, because your differences from one another tell me that it's all right for me to be different in many ways, too.
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Gifts to Give to the World
"We all need to feel that we have gifts to give that are acceptable and valued. We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of saying to the world who we are."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Longing to be Loved
"Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

"I like you just the way you are."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Superheroes are fascinating to many children, and we can help them know it's not an imaginary superself, but each person's real self, that does the really important things in life. As we give importance to what they're learning to do when they're little, we can also assure them that as they grow, they will be able to accomplish other important things, too."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

"Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of at least two lives. Listening, as far as I'm concerned, is certainly a prerequisite of love. One of the most essential ways of saying 'I love you' is being a receptive listener."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Feeling the Fullness of Life
"Something we all need in order to feel the fullness of life: It's not only a sense that we belong on our planet, but also that we belong in other people's lives"
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Losing Trust
" Losing trust is a frightful thing. And regaining it must come through an atmosphere of love — no other way but through love."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

"There's a nurturing element to all human beings (whenever they themselves have been nurtured), and it's going to be expressed or repressed, one or the other. Whether we're male or female, if we have been cared for by another, we have within us the capacity to give care."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

"Like many other values our children get from us, compassion is more likely to be caught than taught."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

" Childhood is not just clowns and balloons. In fact, childhood goes to the very heart of who we all become."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

"Children have a wonderful way of discerning the truth . . . even when we think it's being hidden."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Coping with a Topsy-Turvy World
"At many times throughout their lives, children will feel the world has turned topsy-turvy. It's not the ever-present smile that will help them feel secure. It's knowing that love can hold many feelings, including sadness, and that they can count on the people they love to be with them until the world turns right side up again."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Dealing with Death
"Thinking about death seems to be parents' necessary first step in finding words for their children."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Make the Most of the Moment
"One of the most important things a child can learn to do is to make something out of whatever he or she happens to have at the moment."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

"Just displaying his or her picture on a refrigerator or at the office can make a four-year old as proud as an artist at a gallery opening."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

"I believe that everything in a child's development is connected — what has gone before, what is happening now, and what will happen in the future.
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

" It's through relationships that a child first learns love, compassion, generosity, and creativity."
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special

Think of the Children First
" Please think of the children first. If you ever have anything to do with their entertainment, their food, their toys, their custody, the child care, their education — listen to the children, learn about them, learn from them. Think of the children first.
— Fred Rogers in You Are Special