Sesame Beginnings

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Sesame Beginnings is a line of products and a video series, spun off the children's television series Sesame Street. The line is targeted towards infants and their parents, and products are designed to increase family interactivity.

Product line[edit]

The line was launched mid-2005 in Canada, with a line of products exclusive to a family of Canadian retailers that includes Loblaws, Fortinos, and Zehrs. The initial offering included apparel, health and body, home, and seasonal products.

Soon after, the line expanded to products, including Random House books, available in the United States. Target is the primary retailer for the items in the US. Other Sesame Beginnings licensors include Crown Crafts (bedding), Fisher-Price (infant toys), BBC (footwear), Children's Apparel Network (department and specialty store layette, newborn and infant apparel), Hamco, Blue Ridge, Baby Boom, and AD Sutton.

All products in the Sesame Beginnings line are ranked on a scale of 1 to 5. Products ranked Level 1 are for birth to 6 months, Level 2 are for 6 to 12 months, Level 3 for 12 to 18 months, Level 4 targets 18 to 24 months, and Level 5 aims for 24–36 months.

DVD series[edit]

The first Beginnings videos were in stores March 2006.

Beginning Together
Brandy and her daughter Sy'rai appear in the video.
Make Music Together
Wayne Brady and his daughter Maile appear in the video.
Exploring Together
Matt Lauer and his daughter Romy host the video.

Cast[edit]

Crew[edit]

Books[edit]

There were some Sesame Street book published before Beginnings, starring the characters as babies. These books included photography of puppet-like models created of the characters. In contrast, Beginnings books feature flat colour illustrations of the characters.

History of the line[edit]

Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President, Sesame Workshop comments: "Our own research showed that Sesame Street videos were among those frequently viewed by the under two set, in spite of the fact that the content and curriculum of Sesame Street is designed for ages 2-5. With the Sesame Beginnings DVDs, we're providing parents and caregivers of children under two with content specifically designed to use media as a tool to further adult/child interaction."[1]

The same "underviewing" of Sesame Street is what had earlier inspired show producers to add in the very young-targeted Elmo's World segment.

The concept of the Sesame Street cast as babies was not entirely new, as "baby-ized" versions of characters were available as toys since at least the early-2000s. Many likened the line to previous series like Muppet Babies.

Controversy and criticism[edit]

The production of DVDs and other screen-based media for children under the age of two is extremely controversial. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two be kept away from screen media and Sesame Beginnings has been criticized by a number of early childhood development experts who point to research suggesting that television viewing by babies can harm language development and sleep patterns. A March 21, 2006 article in The Washington Post quoted Harvard Medical School psychologist Susan Linn as saying "There is no evidence that media is beneficial for babies, and they are starting to find evidence that it may be harmful. Until we know for sure, we shouldn't risk putting them in front of the television."

Sesame Workshop has countered such criticism by pointing to their partnership with Zero to Three, a respected American nonprofit child-development and advocacy organization, to produce the DVDs and also that they were extensively researched and tested by respected experts in childhood development. However, one of Zero to Three's original founders, noted pediatrian T. Berry Brazelton, was among the signatories of a letter of protest that was submitted to Zero to Three calling on the organization to disassociate itself with the project.[2]

Advisory board[edit]

Beginnings, like all Sesame Workshop projects, included an advisory committee of "national child development and media experts"[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Introducing Sesame Beginnings". Sesame Workshop. 2005. 
  2. ^ Oldenburg, Don (2006-03-21). "Experts Rip 'Sesame' TV Aimed at Tiniest Tots". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  3. ^ "Introducing Sesame Beginnings". Sesame Workshop. 2005. 

External links[edit]