Nov 10 2009 12:06pm

Letters from Abroad: Brought To You By The Letters K and M, and the number 40

Herr Fiaker[Photo today from Letters from Abroad is Herr Fiaker, a statue commemorating a beloved carriage driver, located a few minutes from where this blog is being written in Vienna, Austria.]

It has been 40 years...

Can a four- or five-year-old be touched by the finest techniques of literature, music, and fine arts? Yes, absolutely, and the people below knew this so well.

Once upon a time (1969), the stars aligned: there was a lot of money to research educating children via TV (before the show began it was heavily researched); there was a publicly funded television station willing to put educational programs on air, so that children could watch the show without being bombarded by ads (the show is brought to you instead by the letter C and the number 8); and there were a group of incredibly creative people who decided to dedicate themselves to teaching children, and reaching them through every artistic technique out there: comedy, theater, narrative, puppeteering, terrific music, art and drawing.

And out came Sesame Street, which, I think, reached us all in the US before we could even write.

I give you then a couple of videos from the show, celebrating 40 years on air, a show very special to all of us involved in children’s books. First, Kermit the Frog talks about being happy and sad. Next, the great Lena Horne sings the alphabet song.

Can you tell me how to get... how to get to Sesame Street!

What is your favorite part, episode, music, character from—memory of—Sesame Street? What makes this educational show for children so unique?

Keith McGowan is the debut author of The Witch’s Guide to Cooking with Children, which was named an “inspired recommendation for children” by independent bookstores nationwide, and well reviewed by the New Yorker Books Department online which called it a  “literary treat” offering “humor that will delight and challenge the inquisitive youngster.”

1. yipyipyipyipyip
imo the best thing about sesame street is that it eventually led to the muppet show, though it had some pretty awesome skits of its own. this is one of the best.
3. Kazimak Tempest
When I was a sophomore in college and living in the dorm, my roommate and I would always sit in our beds, drink coffee and watch Sesame Street before we went off to classes. We got more than one weird stare but it was just the thing to drag my brain into gear before organic chemistry. But, my favorite Sesame Street part has to be this one with R.E.M singing "Shining Happy Monsters".
I still sometimes find myself counting to the tune of "The Ladybug Picnic".

And I can also relate to Cookie Monster.
5. Bluejay
This is still one of the most perfect songs I've ever heard.
6. Sihaya
Oh, I loved so many routines. When I was a kid, my parents bought the album, "A Sesame Street Christmas." Buying a record, you gotta realize, was a BIG HAIRY DEAL. We were Not Made of Money, as my mother liked to remind us. More than twenty years later we still listen to the album while we put up the tree. I've got those songs stuck in my head permanently. I remember Bert and Ernie enacting a "Gift of the Magii" routine in which they trade away their paperclip collection and rubber duckey, respectively, for rubber duck and paperclip accessories. Mister Hooper shows up on Christmas morning to give each of them back their beloved items and say something about the gift of friendship.

I listen "Keep Christmas With You" while I take down the tree:

Keep Christmas with you
All through the year
When Christmas is over
You can keep it near.
These precious moments,
Hold them very dear.
And keep Christmas with you
all through the year.

Sometimes, for no reason, in the middle of July I think of that song.
7. DavidA
Sesame Street definitely did not reach me before I could write, since I was in high school at the time.

Now you kids get off my lawn!

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