Sesame Street got its start at the height of the civil rights movement and the war on poverty, in answer to a simple but powerful question: could television help prepare less advantaged children for school?

In 1969, the show’s founders tapped researchers, entertainers, and other visionaries to create a “street” like no other, where colorful monsters, humans, and even grouches lived side by side. Today, Sesame Workshop – the nonprofit organization behind the iconic show, which has grown to reach kids and families in more than 150 countries and 70 languages – is proud to announce the start of Sesame Street’s landmark 50th season.

The new season begins with Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, a star-studded primetime special that offers a sweeping look at fifty years on the Street. Hosted by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration includes cameos from rarely-seen characters like Roosevelt Franklin and Kermit the Frog, and visits from celebrity guests Whoopi Goldberg, Patti LaBelle, and Elvis Costello. Nearly every human cast member returns, too: Bob McGrath (Bob), Sonia Manzano (Maria), Emilio Delgado (Luis), Loretta Long (Susan), Roscoe Orman (Gordon), Linda Linda Bove (Linda), Alison Bartlett (Gina), Nitya Vidyasagar (Leela), and Olamide Faison (Miles). Legendary puppeteers Fran Brill and Caroll Spinney and current cast members Alan Muraoka (Alan), Suki Lopez (Nina), and Chris Lawrence Knowings (Chris) also appear in the special.

Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration premieres on Saturday, November 9th on HBO and Sunday, November 17th on PBSstations and the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel.

Later in the season, a new neighbor will come to Sesame Street. Played by Violet Tinnirello, 8-year-old Charlotte – her friends call her “Charlie” – is the first child to join the Sesame Street cast in more than 20 years. Charlie is a military child who moves to the neighborhood with her family, bringing viewers along for the ride as she explores her new home for the first time.

Season 50’s curriculum focus – “Oops and Aha!: Embracing the Power of Possibilities” –addresses a pervasive issue facing young children.

“Today’s preschool kids are under an unprecedented amount of stress and pressure to meet certain academic and social-emotional benchmarks, often before they’re developmentally ready,” said Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, Sesame Workshop’s Senior Vice President, Curriculum and Content. “That result-oriented mindset can make kids afraid to take even the safest risks – never trying to pour their own milk for fear of spilling it.” Fortunately, caring adults can help relieve that pressure by giving kids room to make mistakes and tools to persevere afterwards. In one episode, for example, Abby Cadabby’s brother Rudy feels upset when he “ruins” a drawing; Alan encourages him to keep trying, and Rudy eventually creates a new picture inspired by his mistake. By modeling positive thinking, self-confidence, and perseverance, this season offers children – and parents! – a fun way to practice essential self-regulation strategies and creative thinking skills.

Sesame Street content continues to be available to PBS KIDS viewers daily on local PBS stations, the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel, and anytime via the free PBS KIDS Video app. 

For more information, visit sesameworkshop.org.

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