Alexandra Klarén is a lifelong fan of Fred Rogers and his beloved TV program for children, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. She is also a Johns Hopkins Carey Business School assistant professor who has studied and written extensively on the life and work of Rogers. Among the works she has produced are an award-winning academic paper on Rogers and his show, and now a new book, On Becoming Neighbors: The Communication Ethics of Fred Rogers, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
The book arrives as a new feature film starring Tom Hanks as Rogers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, opens in theaters nationwide. Klarén’s new book explores how audiences received Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood through an examination of hundreds of letters written to the program over a 30-year period. The book shows how Mister Rogers created the conditions for the audience to explore questions relating to the social and material world. “Fred Rogers understood the transformative nature of television and its power to reach people at this visceral, interpersonal level of communication,” says Klarén. “Due to his interest in reaching the child in a deeply personal way, he captured the social, the emotional, and the moral imaginations of American children and their parents.”