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

anonymous

November 5th, 2009
7:20 am

that is gorgouss i

Vork

November 5th, 2009
7:22 am

Sesame Street always seemed so irrelevant and out of touch with reality to me. I grew up watching shows like “Dusty’s Treehouse,” “Pinwheel,” and “Today’s Special” on Nikelodeon.

mr ajamanan

November 5th, 2009
7:23 am

they increase phedophiiles in society

seasme street

November 5th, 2009
7:24 am

I thought i loved seasme street
it was so much fun.
i used to love the cookie monster
i watch it with my kids now

mr ajamanan

November 5th, 2009
7:24 am

Enter your comments here

motherjanegoose

November 5th, 2009
7:27 am

My children both enjoyed time watching Sesame Street and my daughter saw the anniversary plug on Google too. She is the one who told me. My daughter was actually more into Barney. I am not “in the know” on the current shows, so I cannot comment on them here.

While I do think educational TV has A PLACE….children spend WAY to much time in front of TV and not sitting down reading books, making puzzles, legos or having conversation with parents. Do not get me started on children in the car with DVD players going while the parents are on their cell phones. This is the perfect place for parents to talk to their children and ask questions about the environment.
Once, I saw a billboard with a HUGE purple circle in the middle of it…I was wondering what it was and as I drove closer…it read “THIS IS A BIG PURPLE CIRCLE…..parents…talk to your children!”
Sponsored by a literacy group…I loved it!

My topic is oral language and how it connects to reading. Children who watch a lot of TV are typically not as verbal as those who are engaging in conversation with their parents and peers.In a nutshell:

The preschool years are critical to the development of emergent literacy skills that will ensure a smooth transition into formal reading. Phonological awareness, print awareness, and oral language development are three areas associated with emergent literacy that play a crucial role in the acquisition of reading.

While Sesame Street and other educational programs can play an important role by introducing vocabulary, nothing takes the place of good old fashioned talk. Think of the children you may know who TALK all the time. Yes, they may be annoying but they are inquisitive and more aware of their environment and able to ask an answer questions with ease…a skill that translates typically into being a better prepared student. Our neighbor, who scored a perfect SAT, talked non stop as a child! He is very bright and I wish him the best!

CONGRATULATIONS to Sesame Street for 40 great years!

jake felstead

November 5th, 2009
7:28 am

i think it is about time sesame street went of air- GOOD GOD!!! either refresh yourself or get out

tessa

November 5th, 2009
7:29 am

i am only 16 years old and when i was little sesame street didnt really do it for me, i dont no wether it was because it was after playschool (my favourite program at that time) or because i didnt really like big bird. However looking back i much love those characters more then i like the characters now. I dont like how the elmo segmeant is done now and i dont really like all the controversy over Bert and Earnie, (my fave characters), but i am proud of sesame street it has done well and im sure it has another 40 years in it.

fatman

November 5th, 2009
7:30 am

i am 23 and i still watch sesame street

matt lyon

November 5th, 2009
7:32 am

i used to love seasme street as a kid. i still think its awsome

Momotoddlers

November 5th, 2009
7:32 am

I watched Sesame street as a child and I’m happy to have my kids watch it now. All of PBS programming is great!

JATL

November 5th, 2009
7:39 am

I loved Sesame Street, but my 3.5 year old likes it but isn’t nearly as into it as I was. I blame it on “too many choices”! When I was a kid, there was no Nickelodeon, Disney TV, Sprout, etc. We don’t allow very much tv watching around here -maybe an hour every few days- but I tried to really get him into Sesame Street and it’s just not his favorite when Diego, Spiderman, Scooby Doo and all the rest are around. He DOES really like a lot of the characters though (go figure). We have some Sesame Street stories, he chose Elmo fuzzy slippers, etc. My youngest is only 1, but he already seems a little more into Sesame Street items.

One thing I do love -when I absolutely must occupy the 3 year old for 20 minutes or so, we go to hulu.com and he REALLY enjoys the old cartoons -Rocky and Bullwinkle, Inspector Gadget and the kid is addicted to the Looney Tunes DVDs we have. Even if it’s not Sesame Street, I really prefer the older stuff!

Tamra

November 5th, 2009
7:40 am

You match my sentiments EXACTLY!!!! Okay, my channel numbers in Ohio were different, but that’s all. I loved Sesame Street (Electric Company and all the others) and am disappointed to say that my kids never bought into it much. Of course, when I controlled the TV early on, I was able to tune the oldest one into Sesame Street, but as you noted that was my only winning battle. Sadly, Electric Company wasn’t even an option 10-15 years ago. However folks, please note that a new Electric Company is back on the air and it is kind of cool. As an educator, I have used it at school. (And for the record, my nostalgic mother bought me the classic set on DVD. Of course, my kids have no interest in watching it.)

Side note – my daughter recently asked for “green jeans” and every time she said it, I kept thinking of Captain Kangaroo. Naturally, she doesn’t know him, but rest well Cap’n!

bob

November 5th, 2009
7:41 am

i have never herd of sesame street but im in ict and dont like iut…

karen

November 5th, 2009
7:42 am

I am nearly forty and still love Sesame Street … Elmo Elmo Elmo …

Lori Anne Franklin

November 5th, 2009
7:42 am

Considering the caliber of today’s programing, it would seem logical that parents everywhere would flock to buy Sesame Street videos. All of them. I grew up with this fantastic show as did my children. Do I think it made them smarter, more tolerant of diversity, and funnier? Well yes, of course I do. The brains behind this show and others like it (Mr. Rogers, Electric Company) were, well “spot on”. We are better for it! Thank you Sesame Street for 40 Wonderful years!

Matt

November 5th, 2009
7:43 am

While it’s true that there are many good educational programs out there these days, I don’t think that any of them offer the variety that sesame street does. My 3-year-old twin daughters are nuts for Elmo, and they can readily identify a good hanful or more of the other charecters, including some of the human ones. Oh, they may not always pick Sesame Street, but eventually they come back to it, and if Elmo is on, they are all about that. Congratulations to Sesame Street on 40 years and to the Children’s Television Workshop for making it great, keeping it updated, and giving parents an always safe choice for their children!!

bob

November 5th, 2009
7:45 am

i dont know what it is but im in ict and dont like it…

Toddler

November 5th, 2009
7:47 am

I can remember the days of the learning numbers from the count, craving cookies after watching cookie monster goobles up a plate, and trying to remeber the number, and letter, of the day. Now, I’m 25, and when i see commercials for Sesame Street I am rather disappointed in what its become. Also, they have changed alot of things, like I heard they make cookie monster not eat cookies now.. Then why call him Cookie Monster? Its things like that that destroy child hood memories. I mean Sesame was only my second favorite show to Fraggle Rocks, which ROCKS, crazy underground puppetry and Jim Henson’s Muppets, and Muppet Babies. Eat one had alot educational points in them.
However, I am not a father, thought I am an uncle a few times over and was around my sisters kids the first couple years of their lives and Sesame was NEVER on the TV, it was always Dora or that other Spanish kid. What happened to the good old fashioned cartoons that kids understood? The boys still don’t know any spanish other then what their father or I have taught them. those shows were useless. I say bring back the shows that inspired imagination and learning, instead of shows that focus on purely entertainment.

DB

November 5th, 2009
7:48 am

My kids never watched “Sesame Street”, and at one point, when my daughter had speech therapy, her therapist was worried about her cognitive skills because she didn’t recognize Bert and Ernie. The therapist was very careful about discussing it, until I pointed out that there was no reason for my daughter to recognize them, as she never watched the show. The therapist earnestly tried to tell me how educational the show was, and how my daughter “really ought to be watching it.” HUH?! My daughter preferred more sedate shows, shows that used only one or two cameras and recorded longer scenes, such as Barney, Mr. Rogers, the Muppet Show and Reading Rainbow. She just missed the Blues Clues heyday, although she watched it some, and Teletubbies completely passed us by.

I’d always secretly wondered if Sesame Street and shows that tried to copy it have been somewhat responsible for the increase in ADHD diagnoses over the years. The fast pace of the show, the quick cuts and busily flashing numbers, etc. didn’t seem to teach kids how to concentrate, and I could easily see where a young child’s brain in its formative years could be affected by not being allowed to fix on a concept with extended attention. There have been some interesting studies on this, too. Obviously, not every child who watched Sesame Street developed ADHD — but it would be an interesting statistical study to see how many of those that did were Sesame Street fans.

Mimi

November 5th, 2009
7:48 am

I absolutely LOVED Sesame Street growing up in the eighties. I still think those were the best episodes ever. My son who is now nine watched Sesame Street only for a short period of time. He loved Arthur and Dragon Tales more. Now it’s SpongeBob, and Danny Phantom oh and lets not forget The Avatar The Last Airbender. I will be tunning in to see these new epies of Sesame Street. I am just curious to see what new and exciting ideas they came up with. Congrats to Sesame Street 40th aniversary. I will be making my donations on their site!

cchicken fathitds

November 5th, 2009
7:50 am

peg carolan

November 5th, 2009
7:50 am

I take care of my God-daughters 21/2 year old twin girls every Friday and they love Elmo, most of all. Sid and Cyberchase are also a hit, but none compares to their Elmo. My oldest two boys age 46 and 41 grew up on Sesame Street and both are geniuses because of it…..Thanks Jim Henson for creating Sesame Street and all the great characters….He must be in Muppet Heaven by now.

poop

November 5th, 2009
7:50 am

CJ

November 5th, 2009
7:52 am

Sesame Street is still current and relevant, and not as frenetic as many of the other offereings are. Yes, there are many other offerings out there, but there will ALWAYS be a place for the Street.

motherjanegoose

November 5th, 2009
7:53 am

DB…you are correct about the correlation…not necessarily Sesame Street ….glad you brought up the point. Here is a quick read;

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/09/08/tv-adhd/

david

November 5th, 2009
7:53 am

I loved Sesame Street, my now 14 loved it but prefered Blues Clues (actualy the book about Blues Clues said it was by a SS guy who didn’t like the way SS was going). She watched SS only when there was nothing else. My 5 yo didnt ever like SS. Her favorites were Charlie & Lola and now iCarly (hardly educational) . We try for a 3 hr limit per week so they have to pick. With the DVR she can alwasy watch what she likes. There are 100’s of kids shows now. Dora was the all time longest watched.

I used to make them watch Little Einsteins and SS and they would get someting out of it. I liked watching numbers chase and word world with them.

There seems to be so many good, well done shows now.

The amazing thing is that when we go to Sessame place, she will wait in long lines to say hi to the ‘people’ rather than going on the fun bouncy rides etc. So it must make some kind of bond.

Favori

Gary W.

November 5th, 2009
7:55 am

I do recall that network tv did not want to run Sesame Street 40 years ago as a special, until NBC took a chance around Thanksgiving weekend 1969 to showcase it. My PBS affiliate was hard to get (pre cable) over the air, so it gave people inventive to pick up a UHF antenna to get the signal. I still remember Mr. Hooper, who was a character from the beginning. Way to go Seseme Street! Happy 40th.!!!

Donetar2

November 5th, 2009
7:58 am

I Loved Sesame Street as a child. Now I don’t even think it is fair to call it that, maybe it should just be called “Elmo and Friends” or “Elmo’s Neighborhood”. The Elmo segment lasts so long it think the other people in the neighborhood have been marginalized.

Graham White

November 5th, 2009
7:58 am

I love Sesame Street. However, considering the incredible amount of spelling mistakes in the comments below; perhaps you should start by watching it again…

Toni

November 5th, 2009
8:01 am

I love Sesame Street! I watched it growing up and even remember seeing the episode when everyone else discovered Snuffleupagus. I was so relieved when eveyone finally believed he was real! I am a 30-yr-old mother of 2 boys. They are 2 and 5. The 2 year old is really into the show now. He loves Cookie Monster the most now I think. He also enjoys The Wiggles. That show kind of drives me crazy but I let him watch it because he loves it. I hope Sesame Street stays around for a long time!

Sharon H

November 5th, 2009
8:02 am

My daughter is two and a half and loves Sesame Street. Two of her favourite characters now are Bert and Ernie, which is funny because they were my favourite when I was young and watching the show back in the late 80’s.
Other shows she now enjoys, when I allow her the option of watching TV, are Dora, Diego, the Wiggles and the Backyardigans.
The best show I ever found was the Little Einsteins and unfortunatly the only channel that aired it where I live in Canada took it off a few months back. She still really enjoys her Baby Einstein movies though which makes me happy as I found they have the BEST educational value of anything out there.
The only show I refuse her to watch is Barney. That show is highly annoying and I find it to be extremely condesencing.
I liked the way children’s programing was when I was younger, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, etc. While I know they still have these shows out now, they’re just not the same…

sesame street lovers

November 5th, 2009
8:04 am

we are 15 and still love sesame street we used to watch it all the time still. we love elmo the cookie monster and big bird they are some phitt stuff. sesame street is amazing and it should never stop…..we mean EVER….i still have a video somewhere from when i was like 5 xxx

LOVE YOU SESAME STREET XOXOXO

Windflower

November 5th, 2009
8:07 am

My two kiddos, ages 2 and 4, like Sesame Street, not that it’s their favourite. They prefer Little Bear, Big Comfy Couch, Franklin and and especially Word World, since they love spelling the word characters in each episode’s challenge. I would have my children watch Sesame Street over Backyardigans and Barney, since I personally cannot stand the singing and dancing in those shows. I strongly believe that tv shouldn’t be on in a household, whether its adults watching or kids, for a long period of time. There are millions of BETTER ways to teaching our kids educational values.

Ted

November 5th, 2009
8:07 am

Sesame Street always seemed a little bit urban to me, and it was hard to relate — but that was part of the appeal. The sense that I was only getting part of the joke. I watched it every day in the late 70’s early 80’s. I loved Grover’s sketches with the fly in his soup — even though when I watch the same sketches now, there are many humor elements that went over my head. Again, part of the shows appeal. It featured sophisicated humor, like the muppet show did, that challenged its audience to keep up.

It seems like the show has tried to Disney-fy inself since then, making marketable characters, etc., and trying to give the show a broad appeal, instead of the quirky sense of humor it had before. When I watch current episodes with my daughter, it’s not quite as cool as I remember.

katie

November 5th, 2009
8:09 am

Kids will defenitly still love still love sesame street im in middle school and me and my frriends still love it !!!!!

Sam

November 5th, 2009
8:09 am

Yes, kids still love Seasame Street. I have a 5 years old son and he loves to watch it on Treehouse. Even I enjoyed it when watching with my son.

Shajou

November 5th, 2009
8:09 am

w00t Sesame Street congrats!
To be honest if you’ve never seen Sesame Street as a child, i think you were robbed of your childhood in some way (that’s if you grow up in the generation that had Sesame Street on TV), don’t cha think?

Ashlee

November 5th, 2009
8:12 am

i absolutely love Sesame Street.
they have a like amusement park type thing that is based on Sesame Street around where i live and i remember going there as a child and having a blast.
I cant wait to be able to take my children there cause i know they will love it as much as i did.
I really like the Sesame Street google logos too.
The cookie monster one is my favorite.

motherjanegoose

November 5th, 2009
8:14 am

@ Graham….I was thinking the same thing about all of the spelling mistakes today but did not want to be the first to mention it.

This why why children who WATCH lots of TV and do not read print in books/environment are not typically good spellers. Those who read a lot, usually have much better spelling skills due to seeing the words in print and not just hearing them. This even applies to adults.

I do know that every poster here has made a typo at some point….you can be a good ( like me) speller but a terrible typist ( also like me) ….LOL!

@ Sharon H…I have been told that the person who created Barney was a Kindergarten teacher from Dallas, TX. MAYBE she knew something….who knows?

Constance

November 5th, 2009
8:15 am

Garanimals have come back!! And it is to a generation that honestly never knew OLD is NEW. The quality of Sesame Street is simple, clear, and fun. If you sat in a room placing, deeply religious children,
immigrant children,
good kids and bad from single parent/guardian household,
good kids and bad from a two parent household,
mentally challenged,
handicapped,
you get the point..it is neutral safe and honestly allows your child to learn to be creative and develop to see learning is fun, when parents cannot afford to buy them that THING. Imagination, is that dated now too. I am 40 and I grew up with educators within my immediate family; to much on TV condensed in a small time frame is not always good for kids all the time. For those of you who disagree, you were probably the one’s with computer devices constantly in hand. Since I am a dinosaur myself and actually helped patent the ridges now on wheels and tires everywhere, Sesame Street allows you to imagine and discover how just simply using your imagination does not cost money all the time. I love the Show, and missed Electric Company and Zoom.

beth

November 5th, 2009
8:16 am

SESAME STREET ROCKS! (especally elmo big bird and cookie monster!)
ROCK ON!!!!
^-^

Kathy

November 5th, 2009
8:16 am

I grew up with Sesame Street, Captain Kangaroo and the Electric Company also. My daughter LOVES Sesame Street and I think they have done a good job over the last couple of years making changes that are relevant and current with educational trends. Their initiative over the last 2 years has been to bridge the vocabulary gap between the lower and middle classes. They have been introducing lots of different vocabulary words and having the words used throughout the show in a variety of ways. It also cracks me up that they will do segments based on adult TV shows like there is one called Desperate Houseplants (Desperate Housewives) that I just think is hysterical!

There is a great book that was published this year called Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis. He explores how children’s programming was basically invented and how Sesame Street came to life. If you loved Sesame Street like I did and still do, you will find this history interesting.

My daughter also loves anything on Playhouse Disney. The Imagination Movers is her favorite and their music is great for kids and adults!

LuckyMom

November 5th, 2009
8:17 am

Not to give away my age, but I was already just a little old for Sesame Street when it started on the air. But, I was lucky. I had younger brothers and got to use that as an excuse to watch the “little kids” show. It was great. I am a little surprised at how many people do not seem to think that Sesame Street is that great. By the way, do you all use spell check?? I agree that it is a little different now than 40 years ago, but so is our childrens environment. With so many choices, they need something to keep their attention tuned to a good program. If that includes guest appearances by celebs and bands, then that’s great. They still get the exposure to counting in Spanish, learning ABC’s, spelling and watching some great characters show that you can have fun learning. I think that’s better than watching the universe get blown to bits in other cartoons on the air. I hope more pre-schoolers get the opportunity to enjoy Sesame Street for at least another 40 years. Congratulations to all of those wonderful Henson creations!

Karen

November 5th, 2009
8:17 am

I have older children in university and a two year old, who loves to watch Sesame Street. Only recently has she wanted to watch the whole hour, but her favourite part up to now has been Elmo and Elmo’s World: the last 15 minutes of the show. We sit and watch it together, this has always been a priority for me, ever since all my children were young.
Sesame Street, compared to other children’s shows is extremely valuable in that it follows the main rules of language acquisition (I teach language at university level), and is brilliant in its teaching techniques. The main one I notice is not the creativity (although nothing can compare to SS in creativity on all levels) but repetition.
Repetition is crucial for children’s development, and you’ll notice they normally never tire of it, but love recognizing things and ideas they’ve seen before. With SS, the whole show repeats itself every day, but with content variants. These content variants, however, are often reshuffled and presented again in other contexts, which is a great way to do it, as the child doesn’t just learn by heart, but learns how to apply the newly learned information/skills within meaning.
I’ve watched some other shows with my daughter, and yes, they’re cute, but none have the pedagogical value of good old SS.

Belle

November 5th, 2009
8:18 am

I remember watching it as a child and I still have a stuff animal of Mr. Snuffleupagus. I tend to keep the Baby Channel on in the background while we putter around the house. I think it is a great teaching tool for the 0-3 ages.

Photius

November 5th, 2009
8:18 am

Yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip…. Book, book, book, book, book, book, book…. BBBRRRRRRRRRING! Yip Yip

motherjanegoose

November 5th, 2009
8:21 am

Oh wow…I could stay on here all day….but do have to work ( I know many of you are thrilled).
@ windflower re:I would have my children watch Sesame Street over Backyardigans and Barney, since I personally cannot stand the singing and dancing in those shows.

OODLES OF STUDIES SHOW THAT MUSIC IS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE IN TEACHING and most likely why it is included in Barney. Many adults learned things like the state in the United States by singing; ALABAMA, ALASKA, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS….. I teach kids things all the time with music. Where are you Jesse’s Girl….I am leaving this to you!

motherjanegoose

November 5th, 2009
8:24 am

@ Karen…thanks for joining us and sharing your expertise. I would love to chat with you!

jay

November 5th, 2009
8:26 am

i never liked it… :/ sorry guys :P