Everyone is ga-ga over Mister Rogers and his peaceful, kind, loving Neighborhood right now.
As an adult, after watching the documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, I’m totally sold on Mr. Rogers’ message and method. What an amazing and important human being.
As a 6-year-old, with only six channels to choose from in the Missouri countryside, I sadly wasn’t sold. Growing up as a kid in the 1990s, even I could tell that Mr. Rogers was past his prime, the set was outdated, the puppets a little too homespun for me.
I’m sorry. Even typing that feels sacrilegious.
Other PBS shows were more my speed, especially Reading Rainbow and Wishbone — both centered on books and a love of reading.
Take a look
it’s in a book
It’s Reading Rainbow.
I’ve always loved reading. I’d check out stacks of books from the libraries at school and in town. We’d grab all the books we could at yard sales. I’d pace for an entire week at the Scholastic Book Fair, trying to find the right selection for my $5 bill budget. Book orders rarely went back to school without an attached check. My first job in high school was as a shelver for the public library.
Books, books, books.
As an adult, still I read books. I write books. I love books.
Books, books, books.
And while my reading tastes have matured (maybe only slightly!) since I was an adolescent, my delight at finding Reading Rainbow on Amazon Prime’s video service was palpable. The familiar theme song played, and I was transported to simpler times.
There’s only a few episodes from the mid 2000s, the end of its run, but I’m enjoying my brief forays back into children’s literature immensely. I’m saving the episodes to watch before bed, on days that are long and tiring and full of “grown up” stuff.
As a child, teen, or young adult, I don’t think I fully appreciated the gem that is PBS — instead wishing my parents would let me watch the likes of The Simpsons (they hated that show!). There are so many enriching programs to watch currently (my favorites are Masterpiece shows like Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and the Durrells in Corfu), and as an adult, I’m so much more grateful for PBS.
Bob Ross, anyone?
Looking back, I’m thankful for all the free, public broadcasts of shows like Reading Rainbow, Wishbone, Barney and Friends, Sesame Street, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — and for all the children who those shows served over the years. And who could forget about Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (If you didn’t read that with a decreasingly low voice modulation, we can’t be friends)
And *gasp* Lamb Chop’s Play-Along.
I remember getting so annoyed when my parents would try and usurp Saturday morning cartoon watching to flip to This Old House or Sewing With Nancy. As an adult, those are right in my crafty wheelhouse. Antiques Roadshow was fun for our whole family, which happened to take trips “antique hunting” in the summers. My dad still watches the PBS Newshour.
Maybe more than a love of reading, these shows helped cultivate, even unwittingly for me, a love of LEARNING.
And like Reading Rainbow, I appreciate these shows so much more NOW as an adult. I’m not even a PBS-expert; I’m just a novice.
What have been some of your favorite PBS programs over the years?
Now if only I could find episodes of Wishbone to stream….