Chances are good you’ve been there before. It’s a place where the days are sunny, the air is sweet, and the friendly neighbors are on a first-name basis with everyone they meet. The place is Sesame Street, and this month the PBS phenomenon celebrates its 41st year of educating and entertaining children of all ages.
The show’s story is really quite remarkable. Conceived around a Manhattan dinner table in late 1966, Sesame Street debuted on November 10, 1969 with the lofty goal of harnessing television’s then untapped potential to teach kids. With Jim Henson’s Muppets center stage, children nationwide were soon laughing out loud while they learned about letters, numbers, self-respect, and fair play. But kids weren’t the only ones having a good time. Part of the reason that Sesame Street currently airs in 140 countries and is viewed by 6 million American preschoolers each week lies in its extraordinary ability to entertain children and adults simultaneously. The show’s genius is that it can use a Muppet spoof of Mad Men to teach about emotions while getting parents and kids laughing for completely different reasons. So celebrate the anniversary of this revolutionary program by taking a behind-the-scenes tour through its history with the following books and DVD’s. And, as a special birthday treat, don’t miss the video clips of Mad Men and True Blood done Sesame Street style.