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

VA librarian

November 5th, 2009
11:46 am

RE: message from tessa: You wrote “…sesame street didnt really do it for me…” That much is obvious, as your spelling and grammar are atrocious. Oh, I’m sorry, you probably don’t know what ‘atrocious’ means, so I’ll take it down to your level: you spel bad. [And yes, that's intentional.]

RE: motherjanegoose: Great comment! I completely agree.

Witchie Poo

November 5th, 2009
12:03 pm

I actually preferred HR Puff-n-stuff. Jimmy! Help!! Help! These idiots here are talking about Sesame Street!

Tessa's Shadow

November 5th, 2009
12:05 pm

VA Library, don’t you got some books to file? How ’bout straigtening them glasses on your nose?

motherjanegoose

November 5th, 2009
12:15 pm

VA librarian …hang in there. It’s nice to have someone here who can spell and articulate….LOL!

Not too common here today is it? Thanks for the support. Some posters rag on me no matter what I share and it is refreshing when others affirm that my ( sometimes old fashioned) ideas may be worthy.

BTW…I love librarians and would like to check in to see if you would like to connect. Send Theresa your e-mail, if you want and I will touch base. Maybe I could come up for story time?

The Shadow

November 5th, 2009
12:43 pm

MJG…are you kidding? You want to “connect” to a total stranger? You sound like stalker.

Vork

November 5th, 2009
1:04 pm

So this blog has become a place for people to peddle their wares apparently. Interesting.

The Shadow

November 5th, 2009
1:09 pm

MotherGoose….quack quack. How can you quack when you sound like a windbag?

Vork

November 5th, 2009
1:12 pm

@The Shadow

Don’t forget “Old fashioned” and “Pompous” windbag.

I told you not to poke the bear crazy lady.

The Shadow

November 5th, 2009
1:44 pm

MotherGoose! There’s a lonely rocking chair sitting on a lonely porch that’s calling out to you!

The Shadow

November 5th, 2009
1:50 pm

You can tell the squirrels all about your speaking engagements!

Tina

November 5th, 2009
1:54 pm

I agree with Vork & Shadow MJG…sometimes your pretty creepy to say the least! You really shouldn’t play with strangers you know?

Durka Durka

November 5th, 2009
2:15 pm

Most of the kids that watch it growing after 40 years are most likely still living with their parents.

Tiffany

November 5th, 2009
2:18 pm

I love Sesame Street! I watched it as a kid- and watched it with my own kids. I hope it stays on for a long, long time! A true CLASSIC.

Divine

November 5th, 2009
2:56 pm

Sesame Street is 40 years old; it debuted on this day in 1969. I was too grown-up by then to watch the show, but my students were then being born and Sesame Street, in its supposedly fun and radical way, aimed to teach them to read and think: “edu-tainment,” they called it.

I began teaching freshman composition in 1986; most of my students had been born 1968-69. Freshman comp isn’t a romp for teachers or students, but students just a few years younger than my first ones appeared to have attention spans accustomed to Sesame Street’s rat-a-tat pacing (modeled on network TV’s Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In), and their primary concern in the classroom was entertainment. Their ideal instructors would have been singers, guitarists, bongo-players and tap-dancers, and guest stars such as Bill Cosby. Their ideal teacher was most concerned not with communication but with students’ personal comfort levels and self-esteem. Over a span of about five years these ideas rose to epidemic levels. The students spoke in quips or in the disingenuous tones of children’s public-television programming — and to this day, dialogue on PBS kids’ shows can drive me nuts.

I don’t complain because the students in my college classroom couldn’t write; most people can’t and don’t want to write. It worried me more that most couldn’t think, except about games and sports teams.

I don’t celebrate Sesame Street.

Your MOM

November 5th, 2009
3:05 pm

hello AHHHHHHHHH

Leilani

November 5th, 2009
3:25 pm

I watched Sesame Street as a child and I loved it. I especially loved cookie monster and the Count! For me it was educational and I did learn a lot from watching it. I would like my children to watch it, too. Everyone is different and has their own opinions. Someone is always going to have something negative to say about every children’s program but it doesn’t mean that those programs are bad. It just depends on the person. There are a lot of programs that I didn’t watch because they weren’t for me but I’m not going to put them down. I think Sesame Street is great and glad that it’s still around…Hopefully it will be around for a long time…Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street!!

Ding

November 5th, 2009
6:35 pm

Not a mom–loved Sesame Street growing up. Of course the show can’t be the same as it was 40 years ago. However, I think that it still has a lot to offer kids. I love the characters. I know that there are TONS of other learning programs out there today, and because I have no children I’ve only seen a few of them. Ok, so some people are not fans of “SS”. But let me tell ya, I’m really happy that I grew up with a big yellow bird and not some big purple dinosaur. BTW, I watched a little tribute to Sesame Street this year on the Daytime Emmys…it was touching. Here’s to another 40!

Ding

November 5th, 2009
6:38 pm

Not a mom–loved Sesame Street growing up. Of course the show can’t be the same as it was 40 years ago. However, I think that it still has a lot to offer kids. I love the characters. I know that there are TONS of other learning programs out there today, and because I have no children I’ve only seen a few of them. Ok, so some people are not fans of “SS”. But let me tell ya, I’m really happy that I grew up with a big yellow bird and not some big purple

dinosaur. BTW, I watched a little tribute to Sesame Street this year on the Daytime Emmys…it was touching. Here’s to another 40!

mystery poster

November 5th, 2009
7:11 pm

What I liked best about Sesame Street is that my children didn’t have to endure commercials. Advertising aimed at children on network TV is rarely something that’s good for them.

lmno

November 5th, 2009
7:39 pm

Kimberly

November 5th, 2009
11:33 pm

I have a 2 yr old son… Every morning when we get home from taking his big brother (6th grader) to school we watch Sesame Street while we eat breakfast. This is our daily routine. It’s something we enjoy together. I personally appreciate & adore Sesame Street. From the repetition of letters & numbers & the alphabet song to social skills & manners… It’s very educational. I’m not kidding when I say that Sesame Street taught him to sing the abc song… I didn’t even know he was ready for that! As a parent, I trust most of the children’s shows on pbs. We love Sid the Science, Curious George, Word World… just to name a few.

motherjanegoose

November 5th, 2009
11:33 pm

@shadow….I work with children’s librarians all over the county and have been invited to speak at literacy and library conferences. I also work/play with total strangers nearly every week…I even get into their cars when they pick me up at the airport to take me to my hotel and speaking venue.

So many take a look at what I can offer and are thrilled to have me come and share what I know.

I am in strange schools nearly every day and working with children, I do not know. I do have some credibility! Contrary to what many here think.
For those of you who go to the same job every day, this may seem odd.

I met DB and Newmom for lunch….contacted off of this blog. None of us were creeped out with each other and we were all total strangers. To those of you newbies…I am all over the country ( Colorado as I type) and work with different folks every week. I do even have a few stories about squirrels…haha!

Thus, I have friends all over the country and not just in the state where I live.

Eebee's Grandmother

November 6th, 2009
12:03 am

I loved Sesame Street as a kid and still enjoy it everyone once in a while. My 15-month old granddaugher loves Eebee (as do I). She loves WordWorld on PBS along with Sid the Science Kid. Haven’t seen the new updated “Electric Company” but loved it as a kid along with Zoom. I still like cartoons but they sure don’t make them like they used to. I will tune in to see new Sesame Street shows to see if they are worth watching. I love Elmo and have even watched older show on You Tube and my granddaughter and I enjoy watching them together. Especially the “What’s the Name of That Song” song and Ernie and doing the “Rubber Ducky.” Oh the simplier days ;0),

Mike

November 6th, 2009
2:48 am

Anyone else notice that a lot of folks who say they don’t watch Sesame Street have a lot of gramatical errors in their posts?

Ms. Mel

November 6th, 2009
3:52 am

I am 19 years old,and also I am a perschool teacher. I know that as a kid I loved Sesame Street, I also watch other children shows but that was one of my favorites. And I look at when my class and I watch T.V. together. I see that Sesame Street has a lot of to live up to. My children watch Sesame Street on some days but they will perfer Sid the Science Kid or my favorite Backyardigans. The difference between me liking the show and my students is that Sesame Street is still trying to teach children the way that I learned and not the way that children learn today. Just having a letter and a number of the day is not getting it. With the two shows that my students like to watch there are songs and dancing they they like. When Sid comes on and sing “I am Looking for My Friends” We all get up and sing and dance with them. Now we look at Sesame Street and they are talk the whole time their is nothing funny but Elmo. We LOVE Elmo. Our favorite movie to watch is Elmo in Grouchland. But we only watch T.V. at the end of their day when it is time to be picked up and releaning what you been doing all day is not something they like. See my class is adding and spelling word now and the words we started with in September and know with out any problems are the word that Sesame Street is still trying to teach them. What I honestly think is that Sesmae Street needs to step up, children are no longer learning their alphabet at 5 they are now learning these things at 2. So to keep children wanting to watch they should move up three steps and challenge what the children should know or are learing at that time.
Ms.Mel

smh

November 6th, 2009
5:52 am

Haven’t watched Sesame Street in years as I have older kiddos. Until yesterday I would have recommended it that was before I saw a clip on Fox News where the SS characters called the network “trashy”. My husband looked at me and said no more. I miss Electric Company and the original Zoom.

sagat

November 6th, 2009
9:17 am

Good spot Mike:)

motherjanegoose

November 6th, 2009
11:23 am

@ Mike…I believe it is grammatical….the root word is grammar….sorry.

Just curious…how many of you know someone who met their partner on the internet….a TOTAL stranger. I am not marrying a stranger…just working with them. Methinks there are those who travel all over the country and have meetings with total strangers every day. I sit next to these folks on airplanes.

Becky

November 6th, 2009
1:18 pm

@MJG..My nephew met his wife over the internet..She’s from Montana..They met in person for the first time 2.5 years ago when his Mother was in the hospital..She came here for a week, a month or so later, he went there..A couple of months later, her and her three children moved here..They just got married in Aug..She is a really great person, as are her children..

motherjanegoose

November 6th, 2009
1:46 pm

@ Becky…yes strangers are sometimes friends we have not yet met.
I would have missed out on an awful lot, if I had never met most of those who were complete strangers prior to me contactng them and then thme hiring me.
Still holding out to go to Montana this year and I have some prspects!!!

It cracks me up how some posters here must live in a very small circle and would not consider meeting new folks from other states! I love meeting new folks!

Jarred

November 6th, 2009
3:14 pm

Its friggin Awesome

motherjanegoose

November 6th, 2009
4:54 pm

oops typos from an awful typist!

foeverbigbird

November 6th, 2009
7:24 pm

When you compare the wit and artistry that went into Sesame Street, today’s shows like WoW WoW Wubzy and Backyardagins are pathetic. Did creativity go out of style?

Seriously'~?

November 6th, 2009
9:26 pm

Wow Motherjanegoose- I’m surprised you can see all us little people from WAYYYYYYYYY up there on your high horse. Thats gonna be one heck of a fall…

mwagner

November 6th, 2009
10:34 pm

I think it horrible that someone up above would say that sesame street would bread pedophilles. I think the show is great and teachers children diversity and manners. They actually tell ESL students or their parents to watch it because it teaches them many things. My daughter loves all the characters and I am convinced that it has taught her letters. I go over her letters, but she started watching seseame street she is not singing the song. So all you people whi did not watch it you missed it. It is great for kids on so many levels. It is better then those stupid cartoons that flash things on the screen and does not really teach them anything. so congrats seseame street can’t wait till nov 10th for the new ones to begin.

motherjanegoose

November 7th, 2009
9:39 pm

@ seriously, listen for my LOUD scream on the way down…can you hear it, not yet? Please also get over yourself and share something we can actually use, instead of attacking. I know folks in all aspects of life. I love those who have something good to share, things we can all learn from. I learned some neat things today from those who stopped to chat with me after my presentation! Those who have nothing better to do than attack others, are wasting everyone’s time and I think that has been mentioned in so many ways by other posters.

Please find something interesting to contribute and check back. If I missed your thought provoking posts, I apologize.

Criticisms are easy to come by…contributions take more thought and intelligence. I speak about this in nearly every presentation I make and I am still employed…imagine it.

Night all…I have been talking for 6 hours and am pooped.

Sarai

November 8th, 2009
10:45 pm

I never really watched it when I was young BUT in my (high school) class we watched big bird goes to japan, and we didn’t finish it, I rented it from my library to watch the rest I loved it so much! I then read Caroll Spinney’s book about big bird, so big bird is now my idol~

Kayla

November 10th, 2009
8:59 pm

I’m not a parent, but i do babysit alot. And when i do go and watch kids the majority of them watch Sesame Street. I personally love it, I’m 15 and when i was little it was one of the only shows that didn’t freak me out! My mom watched the show when she was little and me and my two brothers watched it. The kids i babysit watch it and god knows, if it’s still on air, my kids will be watching it too.

Patrick

November 13th, 2009
4:37 pm

In relation to what someone said about using it as a teaching tool: My TV has a built-in on-screen guide of its own, although it’s a bit outdated. I haven’t used it since it wouldn’t play nice with the cable box I had at another house I lived in.

Anyway, one thing I liked was when I’d scroll through the guide, and would select “Sesame Street”, it would give the subject of the day’s episode, and what this character or that character was doing. It then gave a parenting tip on how to incorporate that episode’s subject to teach your child by example, or to expand on the subject. For example, there was an episode where Baby Bear wanted to send an e-mail to a friend, and the tip read for the parent (more than likely the mother) to take the child with them on daily errands, and show how computers are used everywhere, like at the grocery store, the bank, the library, etc. I thought it was very neat. Other tips included maybe having the child help bake something or clean house, if the show’s subject was either of those, or certain activities to show opposites, colors, shapes, textures, etc. That’s one thing I’d give Sesame Street credit for: encouraging not only children, but parents to interact with each other, and to use the show as a springboard in educating their children of the world around them. I think SS even has a parenting magazine that would have a summary of upcoming episodes, and would feature tips on what to do with the child in relation to the episode.

Candice

November 15th, 2009
8:37 am

I’m 37 and I loved Sesame Street as a child. I think it’s still relevant because it teaches the basics: ABCs, numbers, and good manners. It reinforces what my 2-year-old is being taught at home and she enjoyes it. The diverse cast always exemplifies unconditional love and respect for each other. Why wouldn’t we want to expose our children to these wonderful qualities? I hope it sticks around for another 40 years!

motherjanegoose

November 15th, 2009
4:36 pm

mr tom gones

November 19th, 2009
8:04 am

its burning like fire, stop talking about crappy sesamme street. it encourages pedos and incest. i donot want my kid beenm raped by some tramp in the high street. sesame streeet go away