Do kids still love Sesame Street 40 years on?

If you have school-aged children, like I do, you may have missed the news that this year marks the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street’s first television broadcast. A new season with updated characters and segments will begin broadcasting next week, giving preschool parents tired of re-runs something to look forward to on November 10.

I wouldn’t have known about this major anniversary in children’s programming if I hadn’t randomly used Google yesterday. The Google “doodle” featured Big Bird, which made me search Sesame Street news to find out what was up.

As a child, I well remember watching Sesame Street. I loved that little kid John-John with the massive chubby cheeks who would sit on the wall and talk to Herry Monster about numbers and letters. I adored the Twiddlebugs so much that my parents nicknamed me Twiddlebug. I did not like Bert – he scared the dickens out of me.

This was back in the days before Elmo, Zoey and celebrity/political/pop artist cameos (that I can recall) – and before anyone on Sesame Street met or even believed Big Bird’s best friend, Mr. Snuffleupagus, existed outside of the tall yellow guy’s imagination. This was also back when kids growing up in Atlanta had only four television channel options – 2, 5, 8 and 11. We had Sesame Street, Electric Company, Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, Saturday morning cartoons and little else in the way of children’s programming from which to choose.

By the time my children came along, Elmo and Zoey had become regular “people in my neighborhood”; everyone could see Snuffie; and bands like R.E.M. were dancing around, singing “Furry, Happy Monsters” on the Street. All of my kids enjoyed Sesame Street for a while. But with so many children’s programs on so many different channels, Sesame Street faced stiff competition and was never really the favorite.

My older daughter probably watched Sesame Street the longest. The younger girls always wanted to watch what the oldest watched and quickly learned that certain shows (like Sesame Street by that time) were considered “baby” shows by the number one Big Sis in the house. Even early on, however, Big Sis often preferred other children’s programs to Sesame Street if given the choice. In fact, Arthur and Teletubbies reigned supreme in our house when my oldest child was a preschooler. My middle daughter loved the Tweenies, Blue’s Clues and Franklin. Our youngest was enthralled by Barney and a Scottish show we stumbled upon called Balamory.  When we couldn’t find Balamory on the schedule any more, she moved on to Sid the Science Kid and Toot and Puddle.

All of this has gotten me thinking, what do you as parents think is the best children’s (preschool/early childhood) program out there? And which programs do your (or did your) young children prefer? What were your prerequisites for children’s shows?  Do you go for maximum educational value? Maximum social learning? An even balance? Pure entertainment value? Do you ever steer your children away from programs that annoy you personally, or do you let them make their own choices as long as they are age-appropriate?

Do you still enjoy watching Sesame Street with your kids? How do you think Sesame Street has changed – for the better or worse – over the years?  How has children’s programming in general changed – again for better or worse – in the past 40 years?

192 comments Add your comment

steph

November 5th, 2009
9:24 am

SESAME STREET ROCKS!

new mom

November 5th, 2009
9:24 am

Hey–speaking of repetition, it seems like there are only 8-10 SS episodes that they rotate through. If I see one more ‘Who can wear the most hats on their head day?” I will freak. OK, I’ll really just sit and count the hats again with her…But they really get their money’s worth out of their episodes.

steph

November 5th, 2009
9:28 am

if you love Sesame Street go to PortAventura in Barcelona as they have Sesame Street shows and you can meet the characters! I <3 BERT AND ERNIE! x

Your Mama's Toast Sandwhich

November 5th, 2009
9:29 am

Hell yeah =D Despite all the stupid concept of turning the cookie monster and such into the vege monster and all that awful shiz, I do belive Seaseme street is pretty much hysterical. Elmo is a creature of the night who has scared many children in the world,his red form a devil in the street; along with the count. Yet, everyone else is cool.

The COOKIE MONSTER! Is cool.

Enjoy =D

And don’t delete this…it’s faintly true ; ) Personal opinion you moos.

<3

Lisa

November 5th, 2009
9:30 am

First off, let me say that Elmo should go into retirement. Why do we not see Kermit the frog the original character who along with Jim Hensen launched Sesame Street’s debut?
Ernie and Bert? The “Odd Couple” who crack me up every time I see an old clip….bring them back too. As for the rest of the show…it is still as great as ever. Let Cookie monster eat cookies and make crumbs go flying everywhere! Bring back the I love trash song with Oscar the grouch.

lmno

November 5th, 2009
9:32 am

Thank God for Public Television.

Whenever people say that government involvement always leads to disaster, I point out Public programming which has consistently been superior to private only funded programming for 40 + years.

If you’ve never seen Mr. Rogers goes to Washington, then you should watch this. One of the greatest moments in congressional history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXEuEUQIP3Q

Michael

November 5th, 2009
9:32 am

I grew up on Sesame Street, and know that many of my formative skills in letter naming and lettter sounds and counting were aquired through this TV show. I am now a kindergarten teacher. I haven’t seen the show in years, but since they are revamping and new episodes are starting in Novemeber, I may just have to watch Sesame Street again! Congrats on 40 Years!

Jay

November 5th, 2009
9:32 am

Sesame Street is still the staple of kids shows with one small hiccup: Elmo is too much a part of it – diversity (which is what Sesame Street is all about) is key – Elmo is overdone.

But realize also that Sesame Street isn’t just a TV show and hasn’t been for years – it’s an institution, with games and a slew of books and other educational outlets for kids. I agree with what someone said about not having your kids spending too much time in front of the TV. I say Sesame Street is still the champ – utilize all of its outlets and you will reap the benefits.

Patty

November 5th, 2009
9:33 am

You had to be there at the birth to really enjoy the creativity and explosiveness of the program! I was a senior in high school, and wished it had been around when I was in kindergarten! In college we flocked to the tv in the afternoon to watch it!
How unique-to set up a show like commercials with repeated learning skills instead of product promotion, knowing repetition is the best way to remember information. Jim Henson was a GENIUS!!!
By the way, where is Gonzo on the website?? He was my favorite and the absolute favorite of my oldest son!?! And where is Snuffie? Maybe they will make a comeback in the new season!
Happy Birthday, Sesame Street and all the Muppets!!!

Eadie

November 5th, 2009
9:33 am

Of course kids still like this program
it GREAT!!!
i’m almost 16 and i still like it
:D

80's Gal

November 5th, 2009
9:34 am

My brother and I grew up watching Sesame Street. We would actually look forward to the theme show end credits where there would be a kid going down a big slide. We’d pretend to be going down it as well. We also used to love watching Today’s Special, Read-a-long and Polk-a-dot door. Shows now a days are definetly not what they used to be.

Leslie

November 5th, 2009
9:35 am

Of course its as relevant as ever! The question is getting rather annoying actually, and I find some of these answers to be depressing, judgmental and obviously uninformed. When adults gripe about it’s inability to hold their own attention, I have to laugh because the show is not FOR them. Never was. My 2y.o. loves it (especially Elmo) and I am pleased as ever to enjoy it with him. However, there are many jokes for adults if one has a subtle sense of humor.
Television isn’t to blame for the world’s ills. Nor is it to blame for parental neglect. Its simply a tool and the lack of DVD players did NOT a better parent make. Do not judge a parent’s choices, inspire good parenting.
We have other choices (though remember this has always been for the people- a free and smart show for those of us that cannot afford cable). But we’d watch it even if we did have Nick, etc. Those shows all seem lackluster and frankly rather idiotic compared to Sesame.
Thank you Sesame Street for bringing me, and now my son smart, thoughtful and loving programming.

steph

November 5th, 2009
9:36 am

im the same as Eadie x

sagat

November 5th, 2009
9:36 am

I used to watch it when i was growing up in the early/mid 80’s. Now i am 30 but i would love to congratulate the team on a job well done

Kathy

November 5th, 2009
9:37 am

I was a little too old for Sesame Street (preferred ZOOM, I think) but watched it and Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo along with my younger sibs and loved them all. My son (now 17) learned to read by the age of 2 – partly because of SS. We couldn’t travel anywhere without his buddy Elmo. I haven’t seen it in several years, but still can sing most of the old songs. Long live Sesame Street!

JATL

November 5th, 2009
9:37 am

@deidre_NC -LOVED Sid and Marty Kroft at the Omni!

bino

November 5th, 2009
9:39 am

I always loved sesame street as a kid, but then how many choises did we really have then?
Anyway, I really appreciated sesame street recently when I found out the effort and research that went into its production …. you really need to take a look at this (read the production section):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sesame_Street

Sanura

November 5th, 2009
9:42 am

I love Sesame Street! I, too, didn’t know of the monumental 40th anniversary until I saw the Google doodles. I’m 29 and I will always fondly recall the days my grandparents babysat me and my brother and we watched Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. I loved the Martians, Grover, and Slimey the best. I think it’s a great show that is fun and educational for kids and entertaining for adults too. As I grew up, I realized the humor in characters like the Count and Sherlock Hemlock and the segment where the letter “U” is in love with Smokey Robinson. I had the impression that the Sesame street versions were the originals and the adult versions were remakes, but now I know it’s the other way around
:-)

Allie

November 5th, 2009
9:43 am

My son is 3.5 and he will inevitably choose Sesame Street for his once-a-day TV show. The Count and I have taught him how to count to 20. Telly, Rosita and Zoey have helped us talk about feelings and cooperation. Elmo and I have taught him about brushing teeth, going to the doctor, using the potty and many, many other experiences relevant to preschoolers. Cookie Monster still eats cookies, which has not influenced my son to ignore vegetables – that’s my fault (Mommy does not eat enough of them).
My son actually spends more time on the computer at PBSKids.org than he does in front of the television. He prefers interacting with the online characters to sitting on the couch watching the show.
So yes, Sesame Street is a big part of our lives, and as a first-time parent, I believe I have learned more from the show than my son.
Congratulations to all the people who have helped create this wonderful program every season for 40 years!

Matt W>

November 5th, 2009
9:43 am

IHate U all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But not Sesame Street ;)

Cesth

November 5th, 2009
9:46 am

Still the best! You may not love every minute, but even as a parent, you can sit and watch with your child and not feel insulted, nauseated (ex. Barney, tellytubby) or feel whatever (spongebob). And guess what, the kids do learn something. S St. did teach my kids how to read (by age 3!), numbers etc!

Jon

November 5th, 2009
9:47 am

I still love Sesame; it was the family favorite growing up in my house hold. When I get to gather with family members, we still talk and laugh about episodes that we saw twenty years ago; such as, “there is a hold in the bucket there Henry.” I still think it’s funny. I hope the show stays on another 40 years.

Aleshia

November 5th, 2009
9:47 am

I still love Sesame street and i am 16. If i could watch it all the time i would especially Elmo’s World.

sesame street veteran

November 5th, 2009
9:47 am

I am 24 and remember watching Sesame Street when I was younger. I loved the diversity of the show and its segments. Spanish was my first language and the show actually helped me to learn English!

sesame street veteran

November 5th, 2009
9:48 am

Enter your comments here

Jess

November 5th, 2009
9:48 am

i am 17 and i still absolutely love sesame st. as a kid i loved and now i watch it with my baby brother. sesame st. is a timeless show. it is simply amzing.

the year 1971

November 5th, 2009
9:49 am

I loved loved loved Sesame Street and I am proud to say- it is older than me…by a year and a half…but, we’ll just pretend the number 10 is as high as we can “Count”…thank you.

I really liked Electric Co. – that was a cool show.

ok, kids these days…well…is it relevant stuff – YES. but the fact of the matter is – you dont take your kids to go see Transformers and then try and convince them that the “Clash of the Titans” has the bestest visual effects ever!! Night and Day. it’s like putting the Brady Bunch up against Married with Children- very relevant and wonderful shows…BUT – sort of dated in their own right- but everyone will ALWAYS love them. You dont ever stop watching Sesame but, it will loose its staying power as a day to day show and become more of an iconic thing like- Howdie Doodie or something…

Mike

November 5th, 2009
9:51 am

I hadn’t watched Sesame in probably close to 20 years until my wife, daughter (22 mos), and I started watching it in the past month. I am disappointed but also a little nostalgic to see the same clips in some of the segments that I saw as a child growing up. I still think the show is very educational and obviously with the Elmo’s World segments at the end of the shows they are “trying” to make things more 21st century but I think they’re “old school” methods of instilling values in our children are just fine.

Kathy

November 5th, 2009
9:57 am

@Radha….Jim Henson did not create Sesame Street. Go read the book I noted in my post @ 8:16.

valerie hardoon

November 5th, 2009
9:57 am

Cookie monster rocks!

Yari Orellana

November 5th, 2009
9:57 am

They should put ELMO up on google =P

I LUV U ELMO !!

Anthony

November 5th, 2009
9:59 am

I have read over many of the comments that have been posted by, what appears to be a great variety of the demographic. Two things rang very clear.
One being that most people that mentioned Sesame Street did little for them had terrible spelling and weak grammer skills. These people also had comments about shows known for bright colours and no language of any kind used, were the programs they prefered.
The second person that really ruffled my feathers, was a woman that enforced the idea of conversation was by far more important than watching television. I agree that open dialogue is very important, it is also important that a child must be axposed to elements in order for a conversation to begin. Sesame Street offered math, reading, imagination and child friendly viewing that provided entertainment without insulting their intelligence.
I wish to thank PBS and Jim Henson for providing me with the building blocks with which to be a functioning member of society. I am 38 years old and very proud of parents, including mine, that used Sesame Street as a spring board for increasing their childs awareness of the world from a toddlers point of view.

LissaMari

November 5th, 2009
10:00 am

my daughter is 14 months and absolutely loves sesame street she watchies it every day. she tries to sing along with the song and learned alot fo stuff from it. we get it on demand for her and we record it from direct TV and she watched at least 6 episodes a day. it helps her eat her meals because she watches it and stays still rather than running around with a peanut butter and banana sandwich making a mess. it is convenient for me as well. keeps her busy while im cleaning and it is educational. i love it just as much as her. i find myself singing its catchy tunes.

Steve C

November 5th, 2009
10:01 am

To this day i still sing that song “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12″ which has the ball in a pinball machine going around while its playing. Plus i still imitate “The Count” (guy who looks like dracula) while teaching the little ones in my family how to count “1 mwuah ha ha, 2 mwuah ha ha”. So much fun. I’m 34 by the way!

Leslie

November 5th, 2009
10:02 am

I have to admit that I just skimmed many of these comments. However, the overall theme that I saw was that the people who loved Sesame Street or talked about their kids watching it – had better grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. The people who said they didn’t like it tended to not capitalize anything (include i)and misspelled words.

It’s the only show I really remember watching as a kid; however, I preferred to go outside and play.

Kathy

November 5th, 2009
10:05 am

PEOPLE…….Jim Henson DID NOT create Sesame Street!!! Joan Ganz Cooney and the geniuses at the Children’s Television Workshop were the creators of Sesame Street. Jim Henson only created SOME of the characters….not the whole show!!

Kathleen Lai

November 5th, 2009
10:11 am

I personally feel that Sesame Street lost it’s orginallity when they introduced veggetables and fruits to cookie monster. They killed it.

momtrolfreak

November 5th, 2009
10:21 am

I was a Sesame Street Fanatic, and still have my SS lunchbox (aluminum, with a matching thermos). My 3YO prefers Little EInsteins and Dinosaur Train and they are both educational (one about music, one about paleotology) so I allow those. I won’t let him watch THomas because the characters are rude to each other, no matter how much he begs (maybe when he’s a teenager he’ll rebel and watch Thomas all the time haha). In response to Mr. Nordstrom, I doubt Bert & Ernie BUT I would not be surprised to have a gay couple on Sesame Street. Of course they wouldn;t touch on the word gay or the definition of homosexuality–they don;t deal with what marriage means for hetero couples either, the kids are young–, but two male (or two female) characters who are always together and live int eh same house? What would be wrong with that? INterestingly, I put Sesame Street on this morning for my son while I was getting ready for work (he hasn’t watched it in over a year) and he complained at fist that it wasn’t Dinosaur Train, but he was RAPT. it still has the power to entrall, and I mean that in a good way. Everything I overheard from the other room was educational, and when I popped my head in, he explained to me what was going on with a real comprehension. I’m putting it back on the rotation!

Zaboo

November 5th, 2009
10:37 am

Sesame Street SUX. Pinwheel RULZ!!!!

And YES I meant to spell them wrong and know full well how to spell them correctly so all you grammer nazi’s out there can suck it.

Zaboo

November 5th, 2009
10:39 am

And that would be grammar not grammer. STFU!!! Nazi’s.

Indy

November 5th, 2009
10:43 am

I am an adult woman with no children; however I do still, occasionally, watch Sesame Street when I am home on days off. I grew up with Big Bird, Oscar, The Count, Cookie Monster, Snuffle…? and so on; I love those characters and have even come to appreciate many of the newer ones. I can remember when Sesame Street wasn’t so much “for profit,” but I understand; in today’s world you have to do what you can to keep up and survive and Sesame Street is a PBS broadcast unlike strictly profitable networks and programs such as Disney and Dora (although I think her popularity has fallen). I do love Disney and many characters and programs, but, honestly, with all of the music/musicians, actors; shows and movies, and cartoon characters in movies and television programming, how much more “profit” can Disney stand; after all, they did just purchase one of my favorite comics, Marvel Comics–I hope they don’t destroy its essence. But this is about Sesame Street: Hail, Hail! Long Live Sesame Street!!

Vork

November 5th, 2009
10:49 am

Does anybody else even remember Dusty’s Treehouse or Today’s Special? Or even Pinwheel?

HB

November 5th, 2009
10:56 am

I’ve always loved Sesame Street, but I was sorry to see it seemed “dumbed down” a bitlast time I watched it a few years ago. Still probably better than other kids’ shows though. Personally, I think kids watch too much TV and that PBS should show fewer of the cartoons where the primary purpose is to teach “social skills” but are basically animated children’s sitcoms — Arthur, Clifford, etc. There are too many better ways to tackle that — unstructured play time, reading books with similar stories, etc. The best kids ed shows focus in large part on academic skills and show them things they may likely will not see otherwise (like Mr. Rogers’ “How People Make Things videos).

Just a little history here about the 40th anniversary — 1969 was a big year for informal education. A lot of very creative people were focusing on finding ways to inspire children to explore their world through educational songs, TV, and hands-on learning. That year marked the beginning of the modern science museum movement with the opening of the Exploratorium in San Franscisco and the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. From Frank Oppenheimer to Jim Henson to Fred Rogers (whose show began a few years earlier, but went national in 1968), these new age educators wanted to spark curiosity and imagination.

Indy

November 5th, 2009
10:59 am

I forgot to respond to “Do Kids Still Love Sesame Street 40 Years On?” I certainly hope so because Sesame Street “hoots straight from the hip” without a lot of hoccus poccus. It is simple yet interesting, basic yet full of information and knowledge, colorful but not too busy, comical at the child’s level while adding a little something for the adult, predictable enough for the child while still lending way to curiousity, and much more. I am an ECE (Early Childhood Educator) so I do not much believe in proping a child in front of the t.v. but I know and understand that not all children are in pre-school and that parents have responsibilities and duties at home so given no choice I would certainly sit a child in front of Sesame Street before some of the other children’s program because I know that they will definitely be learning to read and count (Language and Literacy and pre-math concepts). Sure there are many other choices these days, but that does not take away from the essence, character, and quality of Sesame Street. They are still a dynamic program. Happy Birthday! and many more.

K10

November 5th, 2009
11:01 am

I am 36 years old and I am STILL a Seseme Street addict! When I’m having a bad day, I go to You Tube and download clips from old-school Sesame Streets because they make me laugh. I learned so much from that show (my first words of Spanish, how milk was made, all about Hawaii!) and some of the best memories of my childhood are connected to it – we would sit down as a family and watch it on the weekends. Happy Anniversay Sesame Street!

Indy

November 5th, 2009
11:02 am

Error correction from above: Sesame Street “shoots…”

still a kid at heart

November 5th, 2009
11:03 am

OK so I had just started kindergarten the year SS started but I still remember watching it in the mornings. I loved Oscar and wanted to see the inside of his trashcan. Also when Kermit was the reporter interviewing people from fairy tales (I had to wait until I was a bit older before I really started getting all the jokes). I also think I had a bit of a childhood crush on Maria (ok maybe I still do) and to this day I know all the words to Rubber Ducky (you’re the one….you make bathtime lots of fun)….Congrats SS on 40 years…..and I hope you have another 40 years on the air.

Yuck

November 5th, 2009
11:10 am

Hated it as a kid. Hate it as an adult.

Donna

November 5th, 2009
11:17 am

My two year old daughter loves Seasame Street, especially Cookie Monster. I find the show to be educational and fun for her. She also loves Barney. For the little time we allow the TV on, she has learned a lot from the shows about letters, shapes, colors, singing, etc. Thank God for shows like this!

Stephanie

November 5th, 2009
11:27 am

I agree with motherjanegoose, I think children watch too much tv. We will NEVER have a tv in the car–that is absurd! We don’t allow our kids to watch tv everyday, and when when the television does go on, it’s only for an hour. We watch any of the PBS shows and Discovery Kids. My kids also love VeggieTales. Mostly though, we talk with our kids, play games, cook, go for walks, do arts and crafts. I am a homeschooling mother, so we have to stay engaged or we’ll drive each other crazy :o) People are always commenting about how well-behaved, well-spoken, and mature our children are; which probably has a lot to do with the level of personal interaction we have with our kids. Our, and like many of you, we have exposed our kids to the “classics” like Fraggle Rock, Muppets, and School House Rock. The “oldies” are some of their favorites!