Sesame Street Goes Global

10/01/2008 at 05:00 PM ET
Sesame Street Playground

Sesame Street has long been a place for parents and children to come for educational content, fun and music. Though everyone is familiar with the U.S. version of the show — it’s been on the air for almost 40 years! — what many viewers don’t know is that various versions of Sesame Street are seen in 140 countries around the world.

This year, the brand is celebrating its diversity in a number of ways, welcoming guest stars (and celebrity dads!) like Jack Black and David Beckham to its set, and expanding into the CD/DVD realm with the help of Putumayo Kids Records. A label with deep roots in childrens’ global music, Putumayo was founded to help kids "learn about the world around them," says Dan Storper, the company’s CEO. "I think there is something in the way this music resonates in young kids that serves to introduce them to the rest of the world in a positive way."

Together with Sesame Workshop, Putumayo is launching Sesame Street Playground, a CD/DVD that features 13 songs and five video clips of beloved Sesame Street characters and a variety of kids singing songs chosen from Sesame’s extensive library of more than 500 international works. "The collection of choices is massive," says Gary Knell, President of Sesame Workshop. After whittling down their tunes to the final 13, Gary says they have a great representation of the issues facing children worldwide. "We have different versions of the song "Sing," for instance, on the album, but a lot of the tracks are indigenous — for example we sing about pollution on the South African track. Other songs promote different causes that are important global values for kids — no matter what country they’re in — to follow."

The CD/DVD combo is available in stores now, and features songs and appearances by some of our favorite Sesame Street cast members, including Elmo! Click "More" to read some feedback from the show’s furry little monster about why Sesame Street Playground is important to him.

Grover Sings With Children

CBB: Which language was the hardest for you to learn? 
Elmo: English! We all speak "monster" when we’re first born and have to learn English!

Do you have a favorite foreign language? 
Elmo loves the sound of French and Zulu and Spanish and…come to think of it, Elmo loves all languages!

Which song on the CD/DVD was your favorite (aside from "Elmo’s Song")?
I love "Pollution Song." It’s important to take care of the earth sowe can all live in it forever and ever so that’s why Elmo loves thissong best.

Do you think teaching through music helps children to learn? 
Always. Elmo learned so much through listening to songs.

Do you have favorite traditions you’ve learned from other cultures?   
Well, once during New Year’s, Elmo learned about how other countriescelebrate it. Like in Mexico, people make pinatas and fill them upwith fruits and nuts and other neat things. Then, they blindfold thekids and take turns with the stick, trying to break the hangingpinata. It’s kinda like pinning the tail on the donkey. And inPortugal, people eat 12 grapes at midnight as the new year begins,making a wish on each one. Elmo thinks that’s so cool!

– Kate

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