Posted by: montclairlibrary | November 17, 2019

Sesame Street for Grown-Ups

The iconic show Sesame Street turns 50 this year – the first episode aired on November 10, 1969. If, like me, you grew up in America in the 70s and remember the days when there weren’t a thousand channels of children’s programming, Sesame Street was probably an iconic part of your childhood. Counting, Spanish, opposites, empathy, cooperation – I learned it all from Sesame Street.

While there are, of course, lots of Sesame Street books for kids, here are 9 books mostly aimed at adults that help you remember the magic and learn about what was happening behind the scenes on your favorite show.

Sesame Street Books for Grown-Ups, a list by the Friends of Montclair Library

Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis (791.4572 SESAME) (not at Montclair)
This book is sort of Sesame Street’s authorized biography, told with the cooperation of Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the show’s founders (the idea for Sesame Street was born at a dinner party she hosted). “Street Gang traces the evolution of the show from its inspiration in the civil rights movement through its many ups and downs – from Nixon’s trying to cut off its funding to the rise of Elmo – via the remarkable personalities who have contributed to it.” (Publisher)

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones (791.43023 HENSON) (not at Montclair)
A comprehensive biography, written with the help of the Henson family, of the “gentle dreamer” who brought the world Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie and many more memorable characters and worlds.

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano (YA BIO MANZANO) (not at Montclair)
The coming-of-age story of the woman who grew up from a difficult childhood to play the beloved character Maria on Sesame Street.

It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider by Jim Henson (791.53 HENSON) (not at Montclair)
A “glimpse of the philosophy and humor” of Jim Henson through his words and those of his creations. The book also includes “a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the collaborative spirit of this gentle artistic genius from the people Jim knew, loved, and inspired. This uplifting collection of quotes, stories, anecdotes, songs, and insights gives new life to Jim’s magical world.” (Publisher)

Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street by Louise A. Gikow (J 791.4572 SESAME) (not at Montclair)
Subtitled “a behind-the-scenes look at the people, puppets, songs, scripts and show,” this children’s book “traces the history of the show from its initial concept through its evolution over four decades, providing an insider’s view of the Muppet and human characters, the creative team behind the scenes, original scripts and photographs from in front of the camera and behind the scenes.” (Publisher)

Books available through Link+:

The Wisdom of Big Bird by Carroll Spinney
“The puppeteer who brings Sesame Street’s Big Bird to life shares words of wisdom from his feathered alter ego–as well as from his counterpart, Oscar the Grouch–explaining how these lessons have transformed his own life.”

Sesame Street Unpaved: Scripts, Stories, Secrets and Songs by David Borgenicht
The subtitle pretty much says it all – this book is sort of a scrapbook of memorabilia and anecdotes from the show’s history.

Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song
Eighteen picture-book artists, like Christian Robinson and Dan Santat, each illustrated a line from the Sesame Street theme song for this colorful tribute to the iconic song. (Admit it, you’re humming it right now, aren’t you?)

Jim Henson’s Designs & Doodles: A Muppet Sketchbook by Alison Inches
While it’s not specifically about Sesame Street, this collection of Henson’s early drawings gives a peek into his imagination and the inspiration behind some of his characters.

For bonus points, check out this list from NYPL of recommended reading (both kid and adult) for the Sesame Street characters themselves.


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