I should preface this by saying that I was never a Mister Rogers kid. The two Bobs – Ross and Barker –ruled my afterschool world. In fact, I’ll admit that whenever I ran into the cardigan-clad Rogers and his band of unsettling puppets, I changed the channel without a second thought. So, I had zero expectations for this film. If it was going to be anything like what I remembered seeing as a kid in snippets here and there, I expected I might be bored. I’m so glad I was wrong.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a documentary by Academy award-winning director Morgan Neville about the legacy of Fred Rogers, a soft-spoken minister who did something that no one had really ever done before, something radical: he said that children deserved to be heard — and he actually listened to them. Over the course of the film, we learn that Rogers felt that he wasn’t able to show anger when he was young without being perceived as a bad child, so he had to hide his feelings. As an adult, he understood that children’s emotions were just as important, if not more so than grownups’, and he set out to give them a space to share.

Rogers took children on a journey by trolley into a land of make-believe — talking animals, kings and witches — all to explore very real issues. He dedicated whole episodes, sometimes weeks of episodes, to weighty topics like divorce and death. When national tragedies like the Challenger explosion occurred, instead of giving kids a metaphorical pat on the head, he educated them. He made sure they understood what was going on around them and provided a safe place for them during the chaos. He told children that they were loved and valued and yes, that they were special.

Being a minister, we learn that Rogers’ religion was very much a part of him, and yet he wasn’t preaching religion explicitly to the children. He was preaching goodness. “Try your best to make goodness attractive,” he said about his mission statement, “That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.” Kindness, decency, respect – these were the tenants of Fred Rogers.

What’s more profound than the teachings themselves though is the fact that he did all this on television, a platform that has, and continues to, reach children through loud noises, slapstick, violence, and flashing colors. Rogers said no to all of that. He didn’t understand why television had to be all pie-in-the-face mockery. He thought it could be a place for fun, yes, but significance too.

The film is equal parts interviews with loved ones and footage of Rogers both in front of and behind the camera to provide a holistic view of his life. His wife, sister, and two sons give insight into what he was like at home. At one point his son jokes that it was difficult having “the second Jesus” as a father. And it’s true. No matter who is being interviewed, Rogers seemed to be universally liked, and spoken about with such reverence, he may as well have been canonized. You truly feel the love for him from everyone he touched.

If you don’t cry by the end of this movie, you’re made of stone. In fact, you’ll not just reach for the tissues; you’ll walk away wishing you could be a better person – a better neighbor. It’s that inspiring.

For me, this documentary was a foray into the life of a man I never knew as a child but can now appreciate as an adult. After all, as adults we know all too well the harshness of the world, so anyone who strives to make it brighter is someone worth celebrating. In the end, this film made me wish I had been a Mister Rogers Kid.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? opens in theaters June 8th.