A recent study published in the American Economic Journal found that children who watched Sesame Street in 1969 typically performed better in schools, especially boys. Another 2015 study had similar results, adding that more academic improvement was shown in economically disadvantaged children. This goes against popular wisdom that any television watching is bad, though Sesame Street is usually considered slightly better than most. Indeed, there are studies showing any television is disadvantageous for toddlers.
I’ve never been one for extremes, one way or another. I don’t think watching a little TV every day is going to turn my daughter into an academic failure. Marian and I don’t watch a lot of television, but we don’t avoid it either. I’d say she ends up averaging 30 minutes a day, with some days not watching any and others watching an hour or so. For reference, she’s 20 months old. We watch one of two things: Sesame Street or the theatrical version of Phantom of the Opera with Sierra Boggess as Christine (and yes, it has to be that specific performance), her favorite since she was an infant.
But what about Sesame Street books? My experience says that being able to identify characters from across multiple platforms has improved my daughter’s language skills and also her ability to make connections. And we use a lot of platforms: TV, books, music, clothes, stuffed animals, drawings. She can name every single Sesame Street character. It’s amazing! She can also identify their voices when we stream Sesame Street music (which is all day long), and just this morning she was able to identify the letter C and yelled “Cookie!” for Cookie Monster. I’m a very mean mommy and I don’t actually give her cookies, ha. I want her to sleep! The last time she ate a cookie was probably Christmas, so to her, cookie and Cookie Monster are synonymous.
We have perhaps 30 Sesame Street books. We take them on car trips, stroller rides, and read them throughout the day. Sesame Street and Llama Llama books are her favorites, and I really feel it’s because of the continuity of characters.
Does your little one watch Sesame Street and read the books? Do they especially like books that cross multiple platforms?
Here are a few of our most-read Sesame Street books. You’ll notice she has a favorite character!
Most-Read Sesame Street Books
Elmo Loves You by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Maggie Swanson
This is technically a Valentine’s Day book, but don’t tell Marian that. She loves to read this book every day! Her favorite page is where Zoe and Grover love books and they’re in a library. We’ve read this book for a year and she still pauses on that page. The only difference is now she names all the characters, including the monster librarian who I’ve named after our own children’s book librarian!
Love: from Sesame Street
Another love book! I want the ending page framed for her room. I’ve reviewed this one before in a Valentine’s Day post.
Sesame Street Board Books – Set of Four
These are her absolute favorites. She switches between them, one week obsessing over Murray’s First Book of Words, like in the photo above, another week reading Grover’s First Day of School over and over again. She can name so many words in all the pictures!
Sesame Street – My First Library Board Book Block 12-Book Set
These are essentials. They’re tiny little books and perfect for babies to practice turning pages with (and let’s face it, teeth on) and they fit so easily in diaper bags.
Sesame Street – Potty Time with Elmo – Potty Training Sound Book
We have not started potty training, but Marian loves this book nonetheless. I thought it might make her want to use the potty, so I also bought her a potty to go with it. That got a big “No.” Sigh. She does love pressing all the potty buttons on the book though.
Sesame Street Doorbell Sound Book: Trick or Treat with Elmo
This book is also a noise book. Marian’s favorite Sesame Street episodes are Halloween themed. She’s such a character! This was her favorite book for many months, but we haven’t read it in a while now. She will probably start back up again soon!
Elmo Says Achoo!
This is my most recent used bookstore find, and Marian loves it! It’s so cute reading it to her; she’ll fake sneeze on every page.
Do you have a favorite Sesame Street book?
I want to add here that Sesame Street has recently come under fire for supporting Autism Speaks, a harmful organization that claims it can cure autism and that parents undergo the 5 stages of grief when a child is diagnosed with autism. Please read more here. Because of this, I’m questioning my continued support of Sesame Street. It’s disappointing because Marian loves interacting with the characters and Sesame Street has been such an essential part of our lives already.