Thank you Mr. Rogers

Be the Best of
Whatever You Are
Fred Rogers

If you can’t be a pine
On the top of a hill
Be a shrub in the valley, but be
The best little sub by the side of the rill.

If you can’t be a woods
Be a tree.
If you can’t be a highway
Then just be a trail.
If you can’t be the sun
Be a star.

It isn’t by the size that you win or you fail.
Be the best of whatever you are.
Be the best of whatever you are.

We were talking over Skype with our son last night. He’s a librarian and he knows books. He’s also a father who reads to his children a lot. Almost every time we talk, I ask him about what books he is reading for himself and what books he is reading to his children. I select a lot of the books that I read from his recommendations. After all, it is a great treat to have a son who is a librarian and I like to take his advice.

Last night he was telling us about “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers.” He saw the book in a store, while shopping with his children and decided that he would like to own it, so he bought it. Buying books for their home isn’t a really common thing for their family. After all, they have access to a whole library full of books and they check out many books each week. The whole family goes to the library at least once a week. But there are some books that you just want to own, and this was one for him.

Children Can
Fred Rogers

Who can crawl under a table?
Who can sit under a chair?
Who can fit their feet in little shoes
And sleep most anywhere?
Who can play very much longer
Play much harder than grownups ever dare?
You’re a child so you can do it.
You can do it anywhere!

Who can wake up every morning
And be ready right away?
Who can notice all the tiny things
That other people say?
Who can make the things they play with
Something different for every single day?
You’re a child and you can do it.
You can do it any way!

Roll in the grass
Squoosh in the mud
Lick and ice cream cone
Sing to a bass
Splash in a flood
By a stepping stone . . .
all alone.

Who can put your hand in my hand
And be ready to feel all safe and strong?
You’re a child and you can do it.
Children do it all life long!

If you’ve had children, I guarantee, you’ll find a tear in your eye as you read these songs as poems. I’m not sure how our son reads them to his own children without having to stop and wipe his eyes - maybe he can’t.

What Do You Do with the Mad That You Feel?
Take My Time
I’m Busy Being Busy
Sometimes Isn’t Always
Everybody’s Shy Sometimes
I’d Like to Be Like Mom and Dad

Mr. Rogers had a way of speaking to children - and singing to children - without being childish and without talking down to children. He had a skill for talking about important and emotional issues in ways that gave children permission to express their feelings about the things that are going on in their lives.

It Hurts to Be Lonely
Are You Brave?

It’s You I Like
Fred Rogers

It’s you I like.
It’s not the things you wear
It’s not the way you do you hair
But it’s you I like.

The way you are right now
The way down deep inside you
Not the things that hide you
Not your toys
They’re just beside you.

But it’s you I like.
Every part of you
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.

I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like
It’s you yourself
It’s you —
It’s you I like!

I used to read fairy tales to our children on occasion and it sometimes struck me that the stories I was reading weren’t very appropriate for children at all. Evil stepmothers, poisoned apples, princesses who need princes to do anything, a wicket witch who lures unsuspecting children with a gingerbread house - there are a lot of themes in fairy tales that don’t seem to be the right stories for children. Sometimes I wonder what it is about fairy tales that have made them last so long and still be stories that we tell to our children. I think part of the reality of those tales is that they tackle distinctively adult issues in ways that are intriguing for adults and adults read the stories to their children not so much because their children need to hear the stories, but because the adults need to read them.

The poetry of Fred Rogers is very different from fairy tales. These are poems that are very appropriate for children and they are poems that adults will enjoy reading again and again.

Many Ways to Say I Love You
Fred Rogers

There are many ways to say “I love you.”
There are many ways to say “I care about you.”
Many ways, many ways, many ways to say
“I love you.”

There’s the cooking way to say “I love you.”
There’s the cooking something someone really likes to eat.
The cooking way, the cooking way, the cooking way to say
“I love you.”

There’s the eating way to say “I love you.”
There’s the eating something someone made especially.
the eating way, the eating way, the eating way to say
“I love you.”

Cleaning up a room can say “I love you.”
Hanging up a coat before you’re asked to.
Drawing special pictures for the holidays and
Making plays.

There are many ways to say “I love you.”
Just by being there when thing are sad and scary, just by
Being there, being there, being there to say
“I love you.”

You’ll find many ways to say “I love you.”
You’ll find many ways to understand what love is.
Many ways, many ways, many ways to say
“I love you.”

Cooking, eating
Cleaning, drawing
Playing, being
Love you.

Thank you, Mr. Rogers, for a book of poems that we love to read to our children and grandchildren.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!