The Sesame Street Dictionary

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Sesame Street Dictionary
Sesame Street Dictionary 1st ed.jpg
First edition, 1980
Author Linda Hayward
Illustrator Joe Mathieu
Country United States
Language English
Genre Reference
Publisher Random House/Children's Television Workshop
Publication date
Media type Hardcover
Pages 253
ISBN 0-394-84007-0

The Sesame Street Dictionary is an illustrated children's dictionary featuring Muppet characters from the popular television show Sesame Street. First published in 1980, it contains short definitions and sample sentences for around 1300 words, each accompanied by an illustration featuring a character from Sesame Street. In 1986, the dictionary was also issued as an 8-volume set under the title Big Bird's Sesame Street Dictionary. Kermit the Frog's nephew Robin the Frog makes a cameo in this book on the page "frogs", also Miss Piggy makes a cameo in the book on the page "magazines" on a book called "Stars".


The Sesame Street Dictionary contains definitions for around 1300 words, with each definition being accompanied by a sample sentence and relevant illustration depicting a character from Sesame Street.[1] The text was written by Linda Hayward and the illustrations were drawn by Joe Mathieu.[2] The illustrations and example sentences are often intended to be humorous, featuring jokes and amusing situations.[3] For example, the definition for "above" is accompanied by an image of Grover flying an aeroplane above some trees, which leads into an illustration for the next word, "accident", which depicts Grover parachuting to the ground, his plane having crashed into the tree.[4] Homonyms are highlighted by Amazing Mumford, the Muppet magician, who draws them out of a hat.[2] No pronunciations are included with the definitions.[5]

The book is designed for children between the ages of 3 and 8,[3][6] both those who are able to read and those without reading ability.[7] The words were selected by professional educators for their likelihood of being encountered by a child either through books or everyday experiences.[3][8] Depending on the age and educational level of the reader, the book can expand a child's vocabulary, help with "reading readiness" and function as a first dictionary.[3][6]

Publishing history[edit]

The dictionary was first published in 1980 by Random House, in conjunction with Sesame Street producers Children's Television Workshop, in both a hardback edition and a special library binding.[7] In 1986, it was republished by the Encyclopædia Britannica Educational Corporation under the title Big Bird's Sesame Street Dictionary. This edition featured an additional 100 pages of illustrations, and was packaged as an 8-volume set, with 45 pages per volume.[9] The original one-volume dictionary was reissued in 2004, again by Random House, as part of the Sesame Street franchise's 35th anniversary.[10] This version was accompanied by an audio CD containing songs from the television program, including "The Cookie Rhyming Song", "Elmo's Rap Alphabet" and "Off To School".[5]


When it was first published, the dictionary received praise from reviewers, and became a standard work in school libraries.[6][7] Writing in the School Library Journal, Daisy Kouzel described it as "exploding with good fun", adding that "youngsters will find unending entertainment in its big, colorful pages and will enrich their vocabulary in the process."[11] Barbara Safford's Guide to Reference Materials for School Library Media Centers listed it as "highly recommended".[6] Kenneth Kister, in his reference source guide Kister's Best Dictionaries for Adults and Young People, was also positive about the work, although he was critical of the fact that the 8-volume edition published in 1986 retailed at a significantly higher price without adding much worthwhile new material.[7]


  1. ^ Rupp, Rebecca (1998). The Complete Home Learning Source Book. Crown Publishing Group. p. 132. ISBN 9780609801093. 
  2. ^ a b Simpson, Mary Jett (1986). Reading Resource Book: Parents and Beginning Reading. Humanics Publishing Group. p. 64. ISBN 9780893340957. 
  3. ^ a b c d Lang, Jovian (1992). Reference Sources for Small and Medium-Sized Libraries. American Library Association. p. 317. ISBN 9780838934067. 
  4. ^ Hayward, Linda (1980). The Sesame Street Dictionary. Random House/Children's Television Workshop. p. 8. ISBN 0-394-84007-0. 
  5. ^ a b Courtot, Marilyn. "The Sesame Street Dictionary". Children's Literature. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d Safford, Barbara (1998). Guide to Reference Materials for School Library Media Centers. Libraries Unlimited. p. 220. ISBN 9781563085451. 
  7. ^ a b c d Kister, Kenneth F. (1992). Kister's Best Dictionaries for Adults and Young People: A Comparative Guide. Oryx Press. p. 321. 
  8. ^ Chujo, Kiyomi; Nishigaki, Chicako. "Creating E-Learning Material to Teach Essential Vocabulary for Young EFL Learners" (PDF). Proceedings of IWLeL 2004 : an interactive workshop on language e-learning, December 10th, 2004, Waseda University, Tokyo. p. 2. 
  9. ^ Kister, Kister's Best Dictionaries, p. 312.
  10. ^ Kipnis, Jill (3 April 2004). "'Sesame Street' Turns 35 With Vids, Merch". Billboard: 52. 
  11. ^ Kouzel, Daisy (December 1980). "The Sesame Street Dictionary". School Library Journal. 27 (4): 44. 

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