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I'm listening to Mr. Rogers's biography (read by Levar Burton). It is all kinds of sweet and wonderful.

I came upon a concept that has been stuck in my head all week. It just speaks to me both as someone working with kids and as a director.


"Rogers was so meticulous in his process for translating ideas so they could be easily understood by children that a pair of writers on the show came up with a nine-step process that he used to translate from normal English into “Freddish”, the special language he used when speaking to children.

1. “State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” Example: It is dangerous to play in the street.

2. “Rephrase in a positive manner,” as in It is good to play where it is safe.

3. “Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” As in, Ask your parents where it is safe to play.

4. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” In the example, that’d mean getting rid of “ask”: Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.

5. “Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.” That’d be “will”: Your parents can tell you where it is safe to play.

6. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.” Not all children know their parents, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play.

7. “Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.” Perhaps: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is good to listen to them.

8. “Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.” “Good” represents a value judgment, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.

9. “Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development a preschooler can understand.” Maybe: Your favorite grown-ups 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."


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 6th, 2019 08:54 am (UTC)
"Freddish" is such a great concept! I haven't actually heard of that phrase before. Thank you for sharing!
Apr. 6th, 2019 11:06 am (UTC)
I hadn't heard it either, but it is so perfect!
Apr. 6th, 2019 09:23 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this!
Apr. 6th, 2019 11:07 am (UTC)
I loved it too much not to share!
Apr. 6th, 2019 10:34 am (UTC)
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Apr. 6th, 2019 11:47 am (UTC)
I like that, good rules for anyone writing for or talking to children :)
Apr. 6th, 2019 03:24 pm (UTC)
I love this! Mr. Rogers is pretty much a non-entity, being Swedish, but the little I've heard of him have all been good.
Apr. 6th, 2019 09:08 pm (UTC)
Wow, I feel like I should print this out and use it when planning library programs for preschoolers. Rogers was an amazing person. I watched the documentary 'Won't You Be My Neighbor' and it really made me realize how much work went in to creating children's television.
Apr. 7th, 2019 01:56 am (UTC)
I didn't grow up on Mr. Rogers because we didn't have him on UK TV but I did see SNL's version of him, which made me look him up. To be fair, I would never have heard of him if it wasn't for Eddie Murphy (Which I have to admit I found kinda hilarious)
Thank you for sharing!
Apr. 7th, 2019 03:09 pm (UTC)
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! In my line of work, I need to translate technical jargon for the every day reader - and we use the phrase, "Grandma doc" meaning that we write it so your grandmother could follow it. We try to make it simplistic as possible without insulting the reader. I have to say, I adore this "Freddish" version and may look into mixing these steps into my every day work. Thank you for sharing!
Apr. 7th, 2019 03:21 pm (UTC)
very interesting!
thank you
Apr. 8th, 2019 01:14 am (UTC)
My bookclub picked the book on Mr. Rogers for one of the months coming up. Looking forward to reading it or maybe I will get the audio version!
Apr. 8th, 2019 08:55 pm (UTC)
That's fascinating!
Apr. 15th, 2019 04:15 pm (UTC)
That's great! I wish I could keep this in mind when speaking with my kids.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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