"G" Is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street

"G" Is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street

"G" Is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street

"G" Is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street


This volume--a collection and synthesis of key research studies since the program's inception over three decades ago--serves as a marker of the significant role that Sesame Street plays in the education and socialization of young children. Editors Shalom M. Fisch and Rosemarie T. Truglio have included contributions from both academics and researchers directly associated with Sesame Street, creating a resource that describes the processes by which educational content and research are integrated into production, reviews major studies on the impact of Sesame Street on children, and examines the extension of Sesame Street into other cultures and media. In the course of this discussion, the volume also explores broader topics, including methodological issues in conducting media-based research with young children, the longitudinal impact of preschoolers' viewing of educational versus non-educational television, and crosscultural differences in the treatment of educational content.

As the first substantive book on Sesame Street research in more than two decades, "G" is for Growing provides insight into the research process that has informed the development of the program and offers valuable guidelines for the integration of research into future educational endeavors. Intended for readers in media studies, children and the media, developmental studies, and education, this work is an exceptional chronicle of the growth and processes behind what is arguably the most influential program in children's educational television.


Numerous research studies have provided empirical evidence of the power of Sesame Street as an educational tool. However, the true impact of Sesame Street may best be grasped through the dozens of personal anecdotes that reach the offices of the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), the producers of the series, on an almost daily basis. As an example, consider two personal anecdotes from the editors that occurred while working on this volume:

One of us (SF) has a son who was 3 years old in 1998, when Senator John Glenn
returned to space. On the day of the launch, the boy's mother explained that
many years before, Glenn was the first American to travel in space and although
he was much older now, he was finally going back. However, when she sug
gested that they watch the launch together, the boy replied, “I already saw it.”
Puzzled, she asked what he meant. He explained that he had already seen Os
car's pet worm, Slimey, travel to the moon on Sesame Street.

The other of us (RT) recently brought her 17-year-old niece to visit the Sesame
Street set and see how the program is made. This was a special event for the niece
because she had been a daily viewer of Sesame Street as a preschooler. While
there, the young woman had the opportunity to talk with the actor who plays
Gordon, one of the human cast members on the show. She told him how impor
tant Sesame Street had been to her as a young child; she didn't have many neigh
borhood friends at that age, and had seen the people on Sesame Street as her
friends. When she finished, the actor smiled. He said, “The people on Sesame
Street are still your friends.”

These two brief anecdotes are only small indications of the magnitude of Sesame Street's impact on children over the past 30 years. Many people conceive of Sesame Street as a television series about letters and numbers, and indeed, exposure to Sesame Street has been found to result in significant effects . . .

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