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Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?

By Elizabeth Powers

In a world where screens rule our daily lives, I try very hard to make sure my one year old daughter does not get too much time with technology. I keep phones and tablets away and generally try to keep the TV turned off. But on those occasions where turning on the television is a necessity, Sesame Street is my go to. Having grown up with the loveable and learning oriented puppets myself, I feel more inclined to let my daughter watch them sing about the ABC’s then to allow her to view other cartoons or children’s shows that are less educational.

While my daughter does like some less traditional favorites (I’ve never seen a child get so excited about Count von Count in my life) her absolute favorite, like so many toddlers before her, is Elmo.

But if you haven’t watched Sesame Street in awhile, you may have forgotten that the show does more than teach ABC’s and 123’s. Having now watched more episodes than I care to admit, I’ve been reminded over and over again that this show is not only educational in an academic way, but in a moral way as well. Often, as I’ve watched Elmo and the other characters grapple with learning important lessons, I’ve thought of the sisters. The Sisters of St. Joseph live and work that all people may be united with God and with one another. And what does Sesame Street preach if not the importance of caring for and being united with our neighbors, friends, and even those we don’t see eye to eye with. So, here are three lessons that Sesame Street teaches that remind me of the sisters.

1. Be Kind to Everyone.

Kindness reigns on Sesame Street. No matter who you are or what you look like, you are treated with kindness. And, if you’re not, others will jump to your aide and explain why kindness is important for everyone. The people (and monsters) bring kindness to everyone, even the most vulnerable among us. In an episode I recently saw, Slimey, the pet worm of Oscar the Grouch, is being bullied by the Big Bad Wolf.

Once they know what is happening, all the other characters stand up for Slimey, not only to stop the bullying, but to teach the Big Bad Wolf why what he is doing is wrong. While the wolf may enjoy “huffing and puffing,” the poor worm does not enjoy being blown to the other side of Sesame Street. And isn’t this the sort of kindness that we wish to see in the world? The kind where we all band together, not only to help those in need, but to right the wrongs in our society through kindness?

2. We Are All the Same

Diversity is also an important concept that stays at the forefront of Sesame Street. The storylines often share the importance of different cultures and traditions and help talk through difficult topics that may come up as a result. For example, in one episode, two girl puppets of different ethnicities worry that they won’t be able to do a dance routine together because they are unable to style their hair the same way. In another, a woman from India teaches about a holiday that she enjoyed with her family growing up and the culture that she misses. Whether the problems faced in an episode are big or small, they are all met with caring by everyone. No one is made to feel less than because they look different from someone else or come from a different place.

3. Love One Another

My daughter’s favorite, Elmo holds one of the most important lessons of all. In every episode of Sesame Street, we are treated to a segment of “Elmo’s World,” a world where Elmo explains a word or concept he’s thinking about and then learns more about it. Each of these segments ends with a simple “Elmo loves you!” Because no matter who you are, you are worthy of love and friendship.

So how do we get to Sesame Street? How do we get to a world where kindness, diversity, and love are some of the most important issues of the day? In our day to day lives, it may be easy to forget the importance of these simple lessons. But if we each do our best to keep them at the forefront of our minds, perhaps we can help bring sunny days to our world.

About the Author

me and sophie 1 cropped
Elizabeth Powers is the Electronic Communications Manager for the Congregation of St. Joseph and manages the blog, Beyond the Habit. She sometimes acts as a contributing writer. She loves reading, writing, Harry Potter, and PBS. She is a new mom, and working to figure it out!

27 thoughts on “Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?

  1. Sr Sallie Latkaovich says:

    Dear Elizabeth!!! What a lovely reflection on the lessons of Sesame Street. I often think that adults need to be reminded of the very messages we try to instill in our children. Well done.

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  2. Oh my gosh! I just read this at the end of a very long day…and I am smiling SO BIG!!! Thanks so much for this walk down…well, Sesame Street! The colorful pictures as well as this content reminds me how teaching inclusive love is a womb to tomb lesson. Thanks so much for sharing, and inviting us to see this charism we love through the eyes of Elmo and friends!

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    • Kathy Jeffers says:

      I still have Sesame Street albums my boys played (all in their forties) and I have played for my grandchildren. I kept their 40-something Sesame Street play village too for the grandchildren to use at Grandma Daycare. Such an important message for children… and adults. It’s our charisma on PBS! Good for you that you are attentive to the show’s message and share it so beautifully with us. (Now you have me singing “Count von Count’s Continuious Country Cookin’ Down-home Diner” Song to myself.) thank you for the joy of this post!

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  3. Doreen Charest, CSJ says:

    Betsy, I am so happy to see a picture of YOU–and to thank you for using your enviable talent so beautifully! (There may have been other pics of you, but now I see talent and talented together!) Keep up the good work. Sesame Street would be proud of you!

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  4. David Haase says:

    What a great reflection, where does the disconnect in these lessons happen as the children grow. As parents and grandparents we have to keep carrying the torch to light the way of love in our world. It looks like you are, great pic of you and your daughter.

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  5. mary m. hough says:

    Thanks elizabeth You have lhighlighted so many fine points. I atteneded programs of Sesame street with my nieces and grandieces. many moons ago.
    You are a terrific Mom. Keep it up. Blessings to your family.

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  6. Sr. Adelaide Williamson says:

    I really value your well written article, Elizabeth!
    I’m very grateful to know that Sesame Street continues to promote good values in a way that still reaches young audiences. I am also happy to know you are vigilant about what your daughter is exposed to in the media. I only wish more parents did the same.
    Sounds like you are off to a great start in motherhood!
    I loved seeing the picture of you with your little daughter.

    Like

  7. Brigetta Slinger says:

    Thanks Elizabeth for reminding us of these three important lessons in such a delightful way. It was so good seeing you and your adorable daughter. I love your blogs and thanks for all you do in sharing our good news.

    Like

  8. Grace Sbrissa says:

    Sesame Street! I’m too old to have enjoyed Sesame Street as a child, butr NOT TOO OLD to enjoy it’s message now! I keep getting more and more SS Commemorative stamps! I loved your article and it’s message of the connection to CSJ Charism! Loved the insights! THANK YOU~!
    I was grateful for a picture of you and your daughter! Thanks for walking with us!

    Like

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