Tor.com content by

Valya Dudycz Lupescu

“Happy Parents’ Day” — A Transformative Way to Greet the Future

In his essay “Beyond 1984: The People Machines,” Ray Bradbury writes: “People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.”

Better.

Bradbury knew well that envisioning a different future means figuring out how to raise the kids who’ll live in it. Some of his best work, from “The Veldt” to “All Summer In a Day,” tackles precisely that question. This week, as we head toward Father’s Day 2016 amid ongoing election-year furor about how to shape our society’s immediate future, we’d like to offer one simple idea for a holiday that might help shift our collective vision of parenting a little farther into tomorrowland.

Allow us to explain.

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Five Books With Families We’d Like to Live Alongside as Neighbors

From 1968 until 2001, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired on local PBS stations across the country. Each episode, Fred Rogers, the minister turned puppeteer turned songwriter turned activist turned television personality, welcomed us into his home with the warm invitation: “Won’t you be my neighbor?” With his gentle demeanor, he taught us how to face our fears, how to build worlds with our imagination, how to be our authentic selves, how to treat other people with kindness, and how to respect different members of the community.

Fred Rogers understood that each of us is shaped by the people in our lives, in our neighborhoods. He even used his opportunity when receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Daytime Emmys to encourage the audience to be mindful of those people: “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are?”

Both of us grew up watching Mister Rogers, and as adults, our appreciation of his lessons and legacy has grown, too. We realize that, while many of those people he mentioned who matter most to us are flesh and blood, some of them are characters in books. That’s why we wrote Geek Parenting: to celebrate the fictional relationships that have shaped who we are and how we act toward the people we love. Today, then, we share five fictional families whom we’d love to invite, as Mister Rogers would, to please be our neighbors—to step out of their books and live in our own local “Land of Make-Believe.”

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Series: Five Books About…