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Co-Creator of ‘Blue’s Clues’ and ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ Offers Life Lessons for All Ages

Learning lasts beyond our days in school, and Father Dave welcomes Angela Santomero, creator of seven award-winning children’s educational shows, including “Blue’s Clues” and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” They discuss her new book for adults is called “Life Clues: Unlocking the Lessons to an Exceptional Life.

“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” is a spin off of the children’s show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and Angela recalls first getting to know Fred Rodgers personally after years of him inspiring her through the TV screen. “I am such a super fan that when we first premiered with ‘Blue’s Clues,’ I would say all the time, ‘Fred was the first who would talk to the camera and really respect the audience,’” she says. “There were a lot of academic articles that were written about ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ and its effect on kids. Because of that, we got to know each other and started to talk about child development and our responsibility in media. He said he didn’t love much of what was on TV for kids, but he really liked ‘Blue’s Clues,’ so that was huge for me.”

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After Fred Rogers passed away in 2003, his team asked Santomero if she’d be interested in promoting his legacy. She remembers saying, “‘I’m not your person if you want to hire a new Mr. Rogers, because you’re not going to find a new Fred Rogers…I said I would animate the world and the idea [would be] that the characters from the ‘Neighborhood of Make-Believe’ would all grow up and have preschoolers of their own.”

“Daniel Tiger has the little red sweater, the sneakers, and that energy that Fred had, and [the show] leans in to teach the socio-emotional skills that ‘Mister Rogers Neighborhood’ also taught,” she continues.

Angela applies lessons from her shows to her new book for adults, and describes the inspiration behind “Life Clues.” “My girls are adults now, and [the book is] what you want to give your kids to take them into the world as new adults,” she says. “I started to keep a notebook of all the lessons and that we would talk about around the dinner table or what we would say to preschoolers; it’s still important now.”

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Father Dave says, “Jesus famously said, unless you have the faith of a little child, you can’t get into the kingdom of heaven. Sometimes in a homily, [that concept is] hard for me to preach on, because it’s like, ‘we can’t do that, we’ve got our adult mindset.’ It seems like what you’re inviting us to in your book would be along the lines of that.” 

Angela responds, “It’s the idea that kids will lead us, and the fact that they speak the truth. If they have the ability and the safe space to give their point of view, they’re brilliant…that perspective is something that can ground you again as an adult.”

One lesson preached in both Angela’s work and this book is the importance of community. “I think it’s the key to a longer-lasting life,” she says. “Helping in the community and you then getting that back in return; that is the beautiful circle of kindness that happens when you’re accountable to people around you. You’re able to support and be part of that community.”