The Changing Faces of Sesame Street:
Portrayals of Cultural Diversity (a paper from 2004)
Sesame Street was one of the first, and arguably the most influential children’s educational program to attempt to utilize the unique potential of television to reach children from varied cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. While Sesame Street was conceived of as a universal resource to promote school readiness, it is important also to look at the social messages that have been conveyed by the show throughout its 34 years of production. Over the past three and a half decades, the benevolent tentacles of Sesame Street have reached the television sets in every neighborhood in America and, while many studies have been conducted on Sesame’s effect on school readiness, few have investigated the increasingly important area of social development. Through the content analysis of episodes spanning the 34 years of production, this paper explores the portrayals of cultural diversity in this children’s program and examines the ways in which the show has responded to the changing notions of multicultural education that have evolved in the United States since the early 1970’s.
Link to Full Paper