By: Nicole Pelletiere
The day has finally arrived! Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood premieres on PBS KIDS with a special one-hour block of two back-to-back episodes. In honor of today’s debut of the show, New Parent has gotten the scoop from creator Angela Santomero, who was also the visionary behind the hit children’s programs Super WHY! and Blue’s Clues. We’d like to thank Angela for taking her time out to explain to us why this adorable show will become the new family favorite in your home and ours. New Parent: What was your thought process behind ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’? Angela: As a child, I grew up on Mister Rogers Neighborhood and Fred Rogers has been both an inspiration and a major career influence. Now, as a television creator, I wanted to do for kids programming what Mister Rogers did for me. The task of continuing Fred’s legacy for today’s children was certainly daunting. In effect, he created a blueprint for quality children’s television. And, with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, we share the same vision of respect that Fred had for children, the way he communicated with them, his gentler pace and his “interactive” inclusion of the preschool “neighbors” at home. New Parent: Having been the visionary behind children’s favorites like Blue’s Clues & Super WHY!, how do you feel you were successful at knowing what the audience would be drawn to? Angela: Research has always been our secret sauce. With Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Fred’s curriculum is timeless and our approach was planned with today’s preschoolers in mind because we wanted to make sure that we were reaching them most effectively in terms of appeal and learning. Each episode is tested in preschools or daycare centers to ensure high levels of attention, comprehension, and understanding of our life lessons. We want to make sure that the kids are singing and understanding our life lessons and musical strategies that are in every episode. New Parent: What positive learning tools will children receive from watching this new show? Angela: We are so excited about the “life lessons” we have created for every show to be used by preschoolers and parents! Our musical strategies for disappointment (When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good), sharing (You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back), mad feelings (When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four), and persistence (When you’re frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help), to just name a few, are fun to sing and really helpful solutions for kids’ every day challenges. Numerous studies have shown that pro-social values are imperative to later social and academic success for children. And Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood will be integral to helping teach kids these very important skills. New Parent: In your opinion, what will make children love Daniel Tiger and his neighborhood? Angela: Children will fall in love with Daniel! He is a preschooler’s best friend and he is sooo cute! There are many signature aspects to the show that will make kids feel like they are truly going to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, visiting with Daniel, playing with his friends, riding the trolley and singing the songs that make Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood a new type of “preschool musical”. New Parent: The show seems like it is going to be an adorable hit; what is your favorite part of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood? Angela: This show is my passion project. I am beyond honored to have my life go full circle – I’m creating a show to honor the legacy of my hero, Fred Rogers. As his #1 fan, there are many nostalgic “nods of love” to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood throughout each episode of the new show. And I love hearing some of Fred’s iconic songs in episodes like, “There are many ways to say I love you” and “It’s such a good feeling”. New Parent: Do you have children? How do your children play a role in your visions? Angela: I’m a proud mom of two girls who are 11 and 9 and they are just as proud of this show as I am. They read all my scripts and watch early animations and give me notes and really great feedback. The shows I write and create take on a more personal note, as a mom, because I’m passionate about giving parents some tools that they can keep in their back pocket to make parenting easier and more fun. We keep hearing that moms and dads are calling the show “a user’s guide for today’s parent!” My hope is to have a useful strategy for every situation a parent could find themselves in! About PBS KIDS PBS KIDS, the #1 educational media brand for kids, offers all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online and community-based programs. For more information on specific PBS KIDS programs supporting literacy, science, math and more, visit PBS.org/pressroom, or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter and Facebook. About The Fred Rogers Company The company was founded by Fred Rogers in 1971 as the non-profit producer of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for PBS. In the years that followed, it not only created hundreds of episodes of this much-loved program, but also extended Fred’s values and approach to other efforts in promoting children’s social, emotional, and behavioral health and supporting parents, caregivers, teachers and other professionals in their work with children. The Fred Rogers Company continues to build on Fred’s legacy in innovative ways through a wide variety of media, and engaging new generations of children and families with his timeless wisdom. For more information, visit us at www.fredrogers.org.