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Sunny Days: The Children's Television Revolution That Changed America

Sunny Days: The Children's Television Revolution That Changed America

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Overview

From bestselling writer David Kamp, the engrossing, behind-the-scenes story of the cultural heroes who created the beloved children’s TV programs Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Free to Be...You and Me, and Schoolhouse Rock!—which collectively transformed American childhood for the better, teaching kids about diversity, the ABCs, and feminism through a fun, funky 1970s lens.

With a foreword by Questlove

In 1970, on a soundstage on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a group of men, women, and Muppets of various ages and colors worked doggedly to finish the first season of a children’s TV program that was not yet assured a second season: Sesame Street. They were conducting an experiment to see if television could be used to better prepare disadvantaged preschoolers for kindergarten. What they didn’t know then was that they were starting a cultural revolution that would affect all American kids. In Sunny Days, bestselling author David Kamp captures the unique political and social moment that gave us not only Sesame Street, but also Fred Rogers’s gentle yet brave Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood; Marlo Thomas’s unabashed gender-politics primer Free to Be...You and Me; Schoolhouse Rock!, an infectious series of educational shorts dreamed up by Madison Avenue admen; and more, including The Electric Company, ZOOM, and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. It was a unique time when an uncommon number of media professionals and thought leaders leveraged their influence to help children learn—and, just as notably, a time of unprecedented buy-in from American parents.

Kamp conducted rigorous research and interviewed such Sesame Street figures as Joan Ganz Cooney, Lloyd Morrisett, Sonia Manzano, Emilio Delgado, Loretta Long, Bob McGrath, and Frank Oz, along with Free to Be’s Marlo Thomas and The Electric Company’s Rita Moreno—and in Sunny Days, he explains how these and other like-minded individuals found their way into children’s television not for fame or money, but to make a difference.

Fun, fascinating, and a masterful work of cultural history, Sunny Days captures a wondrous period in the US when a determined few proved that, with persistence and effort, they could change the lives of millions. It’s both a rollicking ride through a turbulent time and a joyful testament to what Americans are capable of at their best.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781797109596
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 05/12/2020
Sales rank: 1,155,632
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 5.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

David Kamp is an author, journalist, humorist, lyricist, and a charter member of the Sesame Street viewing audience. A longtime contributor to Vanity Fair, he has profiled such cultural icons as Johnny Cash, Sly Stone, Lucian Freud, Bruce Springsteen, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. He lives with his family in New York City and rural Connecticut.



When he was seven, David Sadzin's first grade teacher gave him a paragraph to read out loud. She interrupted him halfway to proclaim him "The Ringmaster" in his class's musical extravaganza about the circus. He's been using his voice to get out of trouble ever since. After a few intense years on New York's stages, performing traditional and experimental theater, improv, and sketch comedy, he's now settled comfortably in front of the mic in his home studio in Brooklyn.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Putting Down Roots in the Vast Wasteland

The young Jim Henson with Sam, Kermit, and Yorick on the regional TV program Sam and Friends.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Introduction: The Age of Enlightenment Jr. xiii

Chapter 1 Putting Down Roots in the Vast Wasteland 3

Chapter 2 "The Potential Uses of Television" 23

Chapter 3 The Captain Kangaroo Finishing School 33

Chapter 4 Fred and Joan Chart Their TV Destinies 39

Chapter 5 Geniuses Produce in Abundance 49

Chapter 6 Mister Rogers Develops His Neighborhood 65

Chapter 7 Give a Damn 75

Chapter 8 The Street Gets Real 89

Chapter 9 "A Street Where Neat Stuff Happens" 101

Chapter 10 In Search of the Urban Audience 115

Chapter 11 Diversity on the Street 129

Chapter 12 Backlash, Controversy, and Roosevelt Franklin 141

Chapter 13 Network Appeasement Gestures and Knockoffs 159

Chapter 14 The Sunshiny Poptimism of Schoolhouse Rock! 173

Chapter 15 Carole, Paula, and Other Local Heroes 187

Chapter 16 "Hey, You Guyyys!" 203

Chapter 17 We're Gonna Teach You to Fly High 221

Chapter 18 "Propaganda at Its Height" 239

Chapter 19 Sun Shot 263

Acknowledgments 283

Notes on Sources 287

Index 313

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