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"Sesame Street" and the Reform of Children's Television

Robert W. Morrow

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Outstanding Academic Title for 2007, Choice Magazine

By the late 1960s more than a few critics of American culture groused about the condition of television programming and, in particular, the quality and content of television shows for children. In the eyes of the reform-minded, commercial television crassly exploited young viewers; its violence and tastelessness served no higher purpose than the bottom line.

The Children's Television Workshop (CTW)—and its fresh approach to writing and producing programs for kids—emerged from this growing concern. Sesame Street—CTW's flagship, hour-long show…

Outstanding Academic Title for 2007, Choice Magazine

By the late 1960s more than a few critics of American culture groused about the condition of television programming and, in particular, the quality and content of television shows for children. In the eyes of the reform-minded, commercial television crassly exploited young viewers; its violence and tastelessness served no higher purpose than the bottom line.

The Children's Television Workshop (CTW)—and its fresh approach to writing and producing programs for kids—emerged from this growing concern. Sesame Street—CTW's flagship, hour-long show—aimed to demonstrate how television could help all preschoolers, including low-income urban children, prepare for first grade. In this engaging study Robert W. Morrow explores the origins and inner workings of CTW, how the workshop in New York scripted and designed Sesame Street, and how the show became both a model for network television as well as a thorn in its side.

Through extensive archival research and a systematic study of sample programs from Sesame Street's first ten seasons, Morrow tells the story of Sesame Street's creation; the ideas, techniques, organization, and funding behind it; its place in public discourse; and its ultimate and unfortunate failure as an agent of commercial television reform.

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"Sesame Street" and the Reform of Children's Television

Robert W. Morrow

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Reviews

Reviews

An insightful look at American children's television.

[An] accessible, well-researched introduction to the people and principles behind the show's creation... Essential.

Any student of film, television, sociology and American history will find it intriguing and educational.

Morrow's engaging and straightforward book takes us back to that moment in the late 1960s when Sesame Street struggled into existence, and when programming was not yet brought to us by the letter 'S.'

Reading Morrow's account of the complex and discordant early years of Sesame Street was like reading the biography of a childhood friend.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
256
ISBN
9780801890857
Illustration Description
14 halftones, 2 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. The Problem of Television and the Child Viewer
2. The Preschool Moment
3. "A New Bloom on the Wasteland"
4. The CTW Model
5. "The Itty Bitty Little Kiddy Show"
6. "Hope for a More

Preface
Introduction
1. The Problem of Television and the Child Viewer
2. The Preschool Moment
3. "A New Bloom on the Wasteland"
4. The CTW Model
5. "The Itty Bitty Little Kiddy Show"
6. "Hope for a More Substantive Future"
7. "The Verdict on SESAME STREET"
Conclusion: The Many Faces of SESAME STREET
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Robert W. Morrow

Robert W. Morrow is an assistant professor of history at Morgan State University.