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Sesame Street and the Reform of Children's Television by Robert W. Morrow

Sesame Street and the Reform of Children's Television


Sesame Street and the Reform of Children's Television by Robert W. Morrow

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.


An insightful look at American children's television. * Library Journal * [An] accessible, well-researched introduction to the people and principles behind the show's creation... Essential. * Choice * Any student of film, television, sociology and American history will find it intriguing and educational. * California Bookwatch * 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.
Nicholas Sammond

* American Historical Review * Reading Morrow's account of the complex and discordant early years of Sesame Street was like reading the biography of a childhood friend. * Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media *

About the Author

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

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Book Info

Publication date

6th November 2008


Robert W. Morrow

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Johns Hopkins University Press


256 pages


TV & society



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