I want to tell you all the fascinating things I learned about Mr. Rogers reading this book, but it would spoil so many good parts of his life and Maxwell King did such a great job writing them out in an entertaining way. If you have any interest in children’s television, read this book.
The Good Neighbor is the first authorized biography of Fred Rogers, or Mr. Rogers as the world respectfully knows him. While the book is focused on Fred Rogers’ life, a very interesting topic, it also centers around child development and television. The book explores Mr. Rogers’ life and career in such a way to show that his real life character and the character of the man we all know and love from the television screen are, in fact, the same. Maxwell King does an excellent job of laying out this case. He also pushes Mr. Rogers’ expert opinions on child development and shows how those opinions affected both the television shows he was a part of, and the way he interacted with children. Through gripping anecdotes and personal stories told by the people who knew Mr. Rogers closely, including his children and coworkers, Maxwell King lays out how Mr Rogers lived, how he cared for people, and the little idiosyncracies that marked his life. It’s well worth the read. Personally, I listened to it on Audiobook, read by Levar Burton from Reading Rainbow, which made it even better.
If you’re looking for scandal, this is not the way to go. However, if you’re looking to read a solid book about a solid person’s life, The Good Neighbor is a win. But you don’t have to take my word for it.