The world’s favourite street turns 50

Big business: Sesame Street has released one season a year since 1969. © HBO

Is it the most important TV show of the last 50 years? Sesame Street has not only taught a generation of children to read and count, it teaches us to see the beauty of diversity in the world.

What’s happening

An eight-foot tall, yellow bird. A small, furry red creature named Elmo. A grumpy monster called Oscar, who lives in a garbage can.

These are just some of the star residents of Sesame Street. The US kids’ TV show is celebrating its 50th birthday this week after 5,000 episodes and 193 Emmy awards.

Find out more

The show was originally designed by Harvard University to use television to create entertaining lessons.

Sesame Street is populated by a cast of colourful puppets who teach children to read, count (helped out by a vampire called The Count), and understand the world around them.

From the first episode in 1969, its human cast members were racially diverse, which was a big step forward at the time.

Sesame Street remains hugely popular around the world. It has now been broadcast in 150 countries, starting with “Vila Sésamo” in Brazil in 1972.

Next season, Sesame Street is going to focus on important life lessons, like how to be persistent and resilient.

Is it the most important TV show of the last 50 years?

Some say…

No. You cannot single out one show as more important than all the others. Many different TV shows, whether they are made for children or adults, have completely different things to offer. Sesame Street is clearly very popular, but it is not the first or last TV show to teach children about the world.

Others think…

Yes. Millions and millions of children around the planet have been raised on this show. It has entertained them, educated them and, most importantly, taught them to understand and care for others who are different from themselves. It was one of the first kids’ shows to have a truly diverse cast, including an autistic character. It has changed the world.

You Decide

  1. What is your favourite TV show?

Activities

  1. Design your own educational TV show. Who would the main characters be? What would your show teach children about?

Some People Say...

“Friend something better than chocolate ice cream […]. Maybe friend somebody you give up last cookie for.”

Cookie Monster

What do you think?

Word Watch

Garbage can
The American word for a rubbish bin.
Emmy
An important TV award in the USA.
Harvard University
One of the world’s most famous universities, in the USA.
Populated
Inhabited; lived in.
Cast
The group of characters who appear in a TV show, film or play.
Racially diverse
Includes people of different races.
Vila
“Village” in Portuguese, which is the main language of Brazil.
Persistent
When you always keep trying.
Resilient
When you are able to cope with difficult situations and obstacles.
Autistic
When someone has autism, their brain develops with differences. They may find it more difficult to make friends and fit in.

Subjects

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