August 5, 2019

Birth Stories for Books: You are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood, by Aimee Reid

Gather 'round friends. It's time for another Birth Stories for Books post. Today's guest is Aimee Reid, author of  MAMA'S DAY WITH LITTLE GRAY and her most recent book, YOU ARE MY FRIEND: THE STORY OF MISTER ROGERS AND HIS NEIGHBORHOOD (illustrated by Matt Phelan, Abrams Books for Young Readers, August, 2019).

by Aimee Reid and Matt Phelan

The Story Behind My Stories
by Aimee Reid

My first book was born from a bedtime conversation with my eldest child. When I was tucking her in one night, she asked—as was her custom—what our plans were for the next day. I shared what I thought we might do together, and she wiggled in anticipation. Then she said words that sparked my imagination: “When I grow up and you grow down . . . .” She continued to chat about what we would do if our roles were reversed. Her ideal day would be a gentle one—filled with simple activities we shared together.

by Aimee Reid and Laura J. Bryant

Mama’s Day with Little Gray (Random House) is the book that grew out of that conversation. It’s the story of a small elephant who—like my daughter—dreams of growing big enough to take care of his mama just as she has cared for him. Each time Little Gray puts into words his hopes for the future, his mama affirms his character. When Little Gray says that he’d pick the tastiest leaves and share them with her, Mama replies: “You would be big! And very kind.”

It’s been a joy to hear from caregivers about their family’s delight in the book and the time they’ve spent nestled together making their own special memories.

The passing on of affirmations is also the theme for my newest book, You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood (releasing from Abrams Books on August 6th, 2019).

I didn’t discover Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood until I was a young mom. Right about the time that Rachel’s words gave me the idea for Mama’s Day with Little Gray, we began to watch Mister Rogers on television. That half hour became a special time for us. We sang the opening and closing songs together and enjoyed watching Fred Rogers interact with his guests and television neighbors in his kind, consistent way.

I began to read about Rogers’ life and was even more inspired. I learned that Freddie Rogers was a shy child who suffered from many childhood illnesses. One day, Freddie’s Grandfather McFeely shared some affirming words with his grandson: “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”

Illustration from You Are My Friend by Aimee Reid and Matt Phelan

That message sank deep into young Fred’s mind, and he began to believe it. Eventually, Fred grew up to be known as Mister Rogers of the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood television program. During every episode, Fred passed on the words of acceptance that his grandfather had shared with him.

It’s been a privilege and joy to honor Mister Rogers’ legacy by writing You Are My Friend. I hope that as children nestle in laps and gather in classrooms and bookstores and libraries to listen to the words of this book that they, too, will hear his time-honored message and know that they are important and enough just as they are.

Thank you for sharing the tender beginnings to these tender stories, Aimee. Mr. Rogers is such an iconic part of childhood, and he has been a steadfast ambassador for kindness. I can't wait to read your book! 

Readers: Aimee is offering a kindness-infused giveaway! Find all the details (including how to enter) here. The giveaway closes at 12:00 PM EST on August 13, 2019, and Aimee will contact the winners.

When Aimee Reid was young, she wanted to be two things: a teacher and a mom. She didn’t even realize that she could grow up to be an author! She always loved books and has a wonderful memory of being taken to her school’s big library after she’d read all of the books in her classroom.
Aimee grew up to be a teacher and then she became a mom. After her first child was born, she started writing books for kids. Her first book is called Mama’s Day with Little Gray (Random House, 2014), and her newest one is a picture book biography called You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood that comes into the world on August 6, 2019.

Connect with Aimee:
Twitter: @aimeereidbooks
Instagram: @aimeereidbooks
Facebook: AimeeReidbooks


Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? (forthcoming, 2019), and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to Oregon Reads Aloud and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at

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