For 38 years, Sesame Street has sought to meet the critical needs of children while preparing them for preschool. With the help of Elmo, Big Bird and their friends, the groundbreaking show's 38th experimental season premieres August 13th on PBS KIDS (check local listings) and features a new curriculum focusing on early literacy and language skills.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, literacy still remains a critical educational need. Sesame Street has always been committed to putting young children on a positive trajectory for learning. Therefore, season 38 will emphasize the fundamentals of early literacy such as rhyming, vocabulary and letter sounds known to be predictors of later reading skills. In addition, the much adored Abby Cadabby, who was introduced last year, will be in all 26 episodes this season and reinforces the literacy focus with her love of words and use of rhyming.
"Developing a rich vocabulary and a love of words at a young age helps children become better prepared for school and more successful readers," said Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, Vice President Education and Research for Sesame Workshop. "During this season of Sesame Street, our mission is to provide children with basic tools to help them develop their early literacy and language skills. We know that learning is enhanced when an adult watches Sesame Street with a child because the lessons on the show can then be extended into the child's daily routine which fosters a love of learning."
Carol-Lynn Parente, Executive Producer of Sesame Street adds, "We were particularly struck by the statistics illustrating the vast discrepancy in the size of a child's vocabulary between middle and lower income families. " She continued, "Research has shown that preschoolers who watch Sesame Street are more likely to show signs of emerging literacy skills and overall, are better prepared for school. It is our hope to make learning new words fun and encourage parents and caregivers to take an active role in expanding the vocabulary of their child."
As part of this year's literacy focus, each new episode begins with a "What's the Word on the Street?" interview with people and animals of all ages who introduce and define the day's "Word on the Street." To help reinforce language development, these 26 new words, such as "tricycle," "predicament" and "squid," are repeated later in the show as part of the "street" story and in a series of hilarious celebrity segments in which stars such as Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres explain the meaning of the day's word.
Along with these segments, this season will feature all new "street" scenes as well as new animation, and original live action films all designed to expand a child's vocabulary and give them the tools to strengthen their literacy skills. Storylines include: "The Amazing Alphabet Race" where Elmo knows his ABC's so well he's been chosen as a contestant to find all the letters of the alphabet; and "The Letter 'P' Game" in which Alan teaches Zoe and Elmo to find things that start with the letter 'P.'
Sesame Street Season 38 welcomes a new character to its cast this year. Chris, the nephew of Gordon and Susan, moves to Sesame Street to find a job, and after several comic attempts, finally lands a job at Hooper's Store working for Alan.
As always, new episodes will feature well known celebrity guests including; Grammy nominated artists Chris Brown and James Blunt; 30 Rock's Tina Fey; celebrity chef Rachael Ray; New York Jets players Chad Pennington, Laveranues Coles, Ben Graham, and coach Eric Mangini; CNN anchor Anderson Cooper; and Country Music Award-winning duo Sugarland. In its classic style of humor and wit, Sesame Street embraces pop culture with parodies such as "Meal or No Meal," a parody of the hit television game show Deal or No Dealfeaturing a Howie Mandel look-a-like puppet; "American 'I'," a parody of the popular FOX series American Idol, "A's Anatomy," a parody of ABC's drama Grey's Anatomy; "GNN: Letter in the News," with Anderson Cooper of CNN featuring grouch anchors Walter Cranky and Dan Rather-Not; and many more!
Season 38 will also feature five new "Elmo's World" segments where Elmo will be thinking about Violins, Noses, Mouths, Helping and the Beach.
Season 38 of Sesame Street is funded in part by a grant through the Public Broadcasting Service and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and public television viewers.
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