A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show introduces and reinforces early literacy and math skills such as letter and number recognition, phonics, counting, and basic addition and subtraction. In recent years, curriculum has expanded to include lessons about healthy lifestyles, science, geography, conservation, downplaying the nuts-and-bolts concepts of letters and numbers.
Consistently positive, affirming messages for kids that encourage them to feel good about themselves, their friends and family members, and what they're learning. The human cast always represents a cross-section of American society, with both women and men as well as many different racial backgrounds. Some characters also speak Spanish on the show. Major themes include communication, integrity, humility, courage, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
The diverse human cast and wide variety of Muppet characters possess a wide range of skills, talents, and personalities. Kids and adults with disabilities are often featured prominently as part of the spectrum. Characters demonstrate compassion, curiosity, empathy, gratitude, and self-control.
Products & Purchases
Sesame Street is a heavily marketed brand with images that grace everything from food products to children's toys.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sesame Street is a classic preschool series renowned for its superb educational content, which supports early skills in literacy, math, and science and exposes kids to a variety of cultures through music, dance, and language. Over the years, the show has dealt with strong emotions -- missing a friend, suffering from low self-esteem, and being worried about a new sibling's arrival -- but the messages are always positive and self-affirming. A formatting change in 2015 trimmed episodes to 30 minutes, which limits the traditional literacy content (letter recognition, counting skills, and so on) to make room for stories centering on the ever-popular monster stars and recurring segments about broader concepts such as observation and investigation, as well as daily themes such as amphibians, pairs, and bedtime.
Is It Any Good?
Still going strong after several decades, this show has long set the gold standard for preschool media by incorporating early educational and social-emotional skills into an entertaining show that even beckons to parents. Created by educators, Sesame Street capitalizes on kids' natural love of learning and celebrates diversity by exploring different cultures and incorporating both Muppet and human characters of all ages, colors, races, and physical abilities. Through the years, beloved characters have come and gone, but a few original favorites remain even today.
Parents who grew up with the classic Sesame Street style might find some of the show's changes through the years a little surprising -- including a revamped theme song, multiple visual styles, and even segments that alter the appearance of classic characters (Claymation versions of Ernie and Bert, for instance). Even more jarring to longtime viewers may be the 2015 formatting change that cuts the episode length in half and gives second billing to trademarks such as the letter and number of the day to make room for longer plot-driven stories starring the Muppet monsters and broader learning themes. It's unusual to wish for more time in a preschool show, but that's what these newer Sesame Street episodes leave you wanting.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.