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Mr. Rogers (Grade 6)

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A Message from Mr. Rogers
by Justin Hui

On May 9th 1969, Fred Rogers took off his shoes and socks and began soaking his feet in a small pool of water.

“Oh hi Mr.Rogers, how are you?” Officer Clemmens said as he walked by.

“I’m doing fine. It's so warm, I was just putting some water on my feet. Would you like to join me?” Mr. Rogers replied.

Together they sat and soaked their feet in some cool water together, even sharing a towel. This was a simple act, yet had a powerful effect on millions of people across the country.

Why was it so shocking that these two friends shared a pool of water together? Well, at the time, many people believed in racial segregation. These people believed that individuals of different skin tones and backgrounds shouldn’t mix in society, and most definitely not be friends like Officer Clemmens and Mr. Rogers were.

But Mr. Rogers didn’t believe in segregation. He wanted to teach the world to share their love with others, despite any differences they may face. He did this through the television show he hosted called Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Mr. Rogers first began hosting his show in 1968. Every episode began with him walking through the front door and putting on a sweater, while he sang his opening song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

On his show, Mr. Rogers would go on adventures, teach new ideas, and sing the beautiful songs that he would write himself. Most importantly, he wanted to teach his audience to love themselves and love others. He often covered difficult topics that weren’t often spoken about at home, but did so in a comfortable way.

Mr. Rogers loved bringing on guests to his show to demonstrate that everyone is valuable in their own way and that we all have the ability to become friends. When he shared the pool with Officer Clemmons, he showed the world that people of different skin tones could get along. On another episode, Mr. Rogers spoke with another one of his friends Jeff Erlanger. Erlanger was a quadriplegic and taught the audience about his electric wheelchair.

“It’s you I like. It's not the things you wear. It's not the way you do your hair. But it's you I like,” Mr. Rogers sang with Erlanger by his side. By showcasing their friendship, Mr. Rogers hoped to end the stigma against people with disabilities.

By having all types of guests on his show, Mr. Rogers was committed to teaching his audience to be more accepting of others and to love unconditionally. He even once had a gorilla named Koko come onto the show. Koko was apparently a big fan of the show herself and even knew sign language.
Mr. Rogers would end each episode by saying, "You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.”

Mr. Rogers’ work was widely celebrated across the country, earning him a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002, a lifetime achievement award in 1997, and a spot in the Television Hall of Fame in 1999. To many, he is considered a superhero, not because he had the ability to fly or read minds, but because his dedication to spreading kindness and acceptance changed the world for the better.
What did Mr. Rogers and Officer Clemmens do together?
  1. soaked their feet
  2. sang a special song
  3. went to the police station
  4. took a ride through the town
What did Mr. Rogers encourage people to do?
  1. soak their feet regularly
  2. watch his television show
  3. be more accepting of others
  4. try using a wheelchair for a day
Mr. Rogers' show was unique because he
  1. sang songs for kids at the beginning and end
  2. talked about difficult topics in a comfortable way
  3. invited guests to visit him in his own home
  4. wore a sweater every day
Which sentence best summarizes the passage?
  1. Mr. Rogers had a television show for children.
  2. Mr. Rogers changed the world through his TV show.
  3. Mr. Rogers had a conversation with a quadriplegic.
  4. Mr. Rogers was supportive of police officers.
Which detail shows that other people appreciated the message Mr. Rogers shared?
  1. He won a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  2. He sang the song "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"
  3. Many people believed in racial segregation.
  4. Mr. Rogers wanted to end the stigma against disabilities.
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