Saturday, June 9, 2018

What you can learn about speechwriting for children (and their parents) from Fred Roger’s television show Mister Rogers Neighborhood

At The Atlantic web site on June 8, 2018 Maxwell King had an article about his forthcoming book titled Mr. Rogers had a simple set of rules for talking to children. Nine rules for translating into ‘Freddish’ are:

1]  State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.

2]  Rephrase in a positive manner.

3]  Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they can trust.

4]  Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.

5]  Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.

6]  Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.

7]  Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.

8]  Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.

9]  Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phrase of development a preschooler can understand.

For example: 
“It is dangerous to play in the street”
would become
“Your favorite grownups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.”

There also is a documentary film which was reviewed at Rolling Stone by Peter Travers in an article titled ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ is a vital doc that shares Mister Roger’s enduring vision. It also was discussed on NPR. You can watch a trailer for that film on YouTube.

On February 21, 2018 I had blogged about Remembering Fred Rogers and the Children’s Corner. An image of a trolley car was adapted from this one at the Library of Congress.

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