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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 femin 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. 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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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 femin 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. 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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kev Willoughby

    A walk back through Memory Lane with a behind-the-scenes look at some of the very first television shows the people of my generation will ever remember watching. As said in the well-written introduction, the reader will "see all the faces... hear all the songs... feel all the things..." as they travel into the past for a nostalgic visit into a more innocent era (innocent, at least, as a viewer). I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book as I gained insight into the history of the beloved per A walk back through Memory Lane with a behind-the-scenes look at some of the very first television shows the people of my generation will ever remember watching. As said in the well-written introduction, the reader will "see all the faces... hear all the songs... feel all the things..." as they travel into the past for a nostalgic visit into a more innocent era (innocent, at least, as a viewer). I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book as I gained insight into the history of the beloved personalities of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, especially those characters that were prominent during the late 1970s and early 1980s when I was regularly tuned in. The passion of the creators of each of those shows that comprised early public television was admirable, whether their shows became hits or not. The impact of those pioneers both behind and in front of the camera will continue to ripple outward for decades to come. I feel that all of my generation, especially, owes a debt of gratitude to those people. Because of their efforts, we were able to enjoy quite a jump start on learning that has heavily influenced who each of us were eventually able to become. In the understated words of one of those pioneers, Joan Ganz Cooney, they "did something." What disappointed me as an adult reader was the discovery of how much Sesame Street, in particular, was criticized by parents and political activists in the beginning of that era. As a child, I took the show at face value. It was educational, and I felt like was learning while I was being entertained by the characters in the show. The amount of negative letters that the creators received by viewers who thought the characters on the show were either too diverse or not diverse enough is quite surprising. That never even crossed my mind as a kid. There were too many critics on both sides of the issue. Why couldn't those parents and activists just enjoy the show for what it was? (An opportunity to learn and grow that otherwise would not have been available to children. Would that have been better?) Other viewers thought that Sesame Street was either too progressive or too traditional with the gender roles of the characters. This, too, never crossed my mind as a young viewer. I was happy to be learning and I never thought anything odd about the gender roles of the puppets or the actors on the show. How frustrating it must have been to work on the show and be constantly called out by activist groups who were missing the mission of the show. I'm thankful that the writers, producers, directors, and actors persevered and did not lose heart in their efforts to positively impact the kids, the true target audience. The last 1/3 of the book was lost on me. I've never enjoyed reading, watching, or listening to political arguments, left or right, and the latter portion of the book was reduced into just that. Politics have always been a turnoff for me as a reader. Perhaps the history of The Children's Television Workshop can't be told without a political slant, and if so, maybe that was the true intent of this publication after all. I get that the shows were publicly funded by taxpayers. Regardless, the end of the book is not in the same spirit of nostalgia as the early parts of the book are presented to be. Still, there's enough good within these pages to recommend this one as a solid read to all who watched these shows. This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Ryckman

    Non-fiction is not normally my thing, but...goodness gracious this book warms my heart. In part, I think it has to do with the fact that programs like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers always have a special place in my heart: the sheer positivity of both of them is infectious. This book does a great job of showing their origins, showing how the times they were in impacted their genesis and how the flow of time affected them to change ever so slightly. Anyone who cares about public television, children' Non-fiction is not normally my thing, but...goodness gracious this book warms my heart. In part, I think it has to do with the fact that programs like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers always have a special place in my heart: the sheer positivity of both of them is infectious. This book does a great job of showing their origins, showing how the times they were in impacted their genesis and how the flow of time affected them to change ever so slightly. Anyone who cares about public television, children's programming, or just likes some of the old television from 'back in the day' will appreciate this.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    3.5 stars. Aside from the nostalgia factor (literally singing the songs in my head as they mentioned different shows and skits), Sunny Days was interesting in that it pulled back the curtain and showed how our favorite childhood worlds were created. The book focused mostly on the business and politics of it all, and slightly less on the creative aspect I'd been hoping for. Still, what a wonderful walk down memory lane.

  4. 5 out of 5

    jocelyn

    3.5 stars

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessi

    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book was incredibly informative while also being completely heart-warming. It took what could have been really dry material, and brought a lot of warmth and life to it. It ended up being a very enjoyable read. I had previously read The Good Neighbor that focused on Mister Rogers's Neighborhood and Fred Rogers exclusively, so I already knew some of the information. But this book gave a much broader scope and a I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book was incredibly informative while also being completely heart-warming. It took what could have been really dry material, and brought a lot of warmth and life to it. It ended up being a very enjoyable read. I had previously read The Good Neighbor that focused on Mister Rogers's Neighborhood and Fred Rogers exclusively, so I already knew some of the information. But this book gave a much broader scope and a lot more context. I had never considered the social and political climate in the US that surrounded the debut of Sesame Street and Mister Roger's Neighborhood. Learning that brought so much into perspective. I enjoyed that this book also addressed all of the spin off shows, how different presidents and their administrations affected SS and MRN as well as all of public television. The passion that the founders of these shows and this wave of educational TV for children was truly amazing.. Reading about the results they brought to that first generation of kids to watch was so moving. Overall, a great non-fiction read for anyone who grew up watching these shows!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bella

    Another reviewer described this as "breezy," which feels like an apt description for this account of the children's television boom in the '60s and '70s. I'm fascinated by the ways in which children learn to read and engage their imaginations, and I think we'd be remiss to ignore the contributions of Sesame Street and co. into that. I have some minor qualms about language use (particularly around race and gender), but all in all, my Electric-Company-loving heart finished very pleased :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This was so uplifting and joyful I could hardly stand it! I couldn't read three pages without looking something up on YouTube like Schoolhouse Rock's 3 Is a Magic Number or Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader on The Electric Company. Get ready to live.

  8. 4 out of 5

    melhara

    This is probably a great and nostalgic book for those who grew up in the 60s and 70s (maybe even the 80s). I initially picked up this book because I had previously read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, which included really interesting facts about Sesame Street and its impact on educational programming. I grabbed this book when I saw the cover, mistakenly thinking it would be focused on the history of Sesame Street. This book was actually about the history of educational TV programming This is probably a great and nostalgic book for those who grew up in the 60s and 70s (maybe even the 80s). I initially picked up this book because I had previously read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, which included really interesting facts about Sesame Street and its impact on educational programming. I grabbed this book when I saw the cover, mistakenly thinking it would be focused on the history of Sesame Street. This book was actually about the history of educational TV programming in general. Possibly because I'm Canadian (and most of these shows probably weren't televised up here), but the only two TV shows that I knew of that were mentioned in this book were Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. There were so many shows mentioned in this book that I've never heard of (as they were from before my time). These included (links to the YouTube clips also included): - Captain Kangaroo (1955 to 1984) - The Me Nobody Knows (1970) - Curiosity Shop (1971 to 1972) - The Electric Company (1971 to 1977) - Free to be...You and me (1972) - with a focus on William's Doll and It's Alright to Cry - New Zoo Revue (1972 to 1977) with mentions about their Drugs episode ("drugs are not cool, and they're not fun / why play around with your life? / it's your only one") & their Money episode ("buying things may make you happy for a while / but they can't give you a lasting smile") - Zoom (1972 to 1978) - and Bernadette's arm thing - Joya's Fun School (1972 to 1982) - The Magic Garden (1972 to 1984) - Schoolhouse Rock! (1973 to 2009) with mentions about Conjunction Junction, I'm Just a Bill, I Got Six, Naughty Number Nine, Unpack Your Adjectives, Figure Eight, My Hero Zero, and Three is a Magic Number I was a bit disappointed that this book didn't focus solely on Sesame Street, but I did learn a lot about the history of children's television. I loved that Sesame Street was created with the sole focus of bridging the "achievement gap" between advantaged and disadvantaged kids, and providing disadvantaged kids an opportunity to learn and prepare for school. I also thought it was quite funny that in the early days of Sesame Street the pitch for the show was so out there, people worried that the staff/creators were on drugs. Another interesting fact was that in its first season, "Sesame Street was the blackest show on national television" and that the lighting designer won "an award for learning how to light interracial groups of people" (because of the way light bounced off Big Bird and make the black actors appear even darker and hard to see). Finally, my favourite fact that I learned was finding out that the terms "rubber duckie", "one of these things is not like the other" and "which came first, the chicken or the egg" where terms and phrases that originated from Sesame Street. Overall, a pretty good book. Recommended for people into television history, educational children's shows, and those who grew up in the 60s-80s.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This book was absolutely fascinating! The history and intentionality of children's educational tv programming makes this educator's heart so happy. I loved reliving the nostalgia of beloved shows such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Zoom (even though I grew up with the remakes!) I have such respect for the creator's of Sesame Street and their worthy goals to try and close the achievement gap with educational television, as well as teach children to love all kinds of people. I highly This book was absolutely fascinating! The history and intentionality of children's educational tv programming makes this educator's heart so happy. I loved reliving the nostalgia of beloved shows such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Zoom (even though I grew up with the remakes!) I have such respect for the creator's of Sesame Street and their worthy goals to try and close the achievement gap with educational television, as well as teach children to love all kinds of people. I highly recommend this book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    Fun book about more than just Sesame Street. I might have enjoyed it now if I had lived in the US at the ages these shows targeted.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Terry P

    Fact and story filled book that demonstrates the IMPORTANCE OF GOOD children's TV and the dedicated people behind it. Far beyond just a nostalgic journey. Thank you David Kamp!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jee Hooked On Bookz

    Be ready to be inspired by ‘Sunny Days’! We went to Sea World because my daughter loves Sesame Street. And I too, fell in love with it through her eyes and enthusiasm. I get even more excited than her whenever the program comes on. So when I came across Big Bird peeking out from the front cover with ‘Sunny Days’ as its title, I couldn’t resist; I had to read it! I had such a fun time going behind-the-scenes of Sesame Street – learning about how the idea was sparked over dinner by two friends, Joan Be ready to be inspired by ‘Sunny Days’! We went to Sea World because my daughter loves Sesame Street. And I too, fell in love with it through her eyes and enthusiasm. I get even more excited than her whenever the program comes on. So when I came across Big Bird peeking out from the front cover with ‘Sunny Days’ as its title, I couldn’t resist; I had to read it! I had such a fun time going behind-the-scenes of Sesame Street – learning about how the idea was sparked over dinner by two friends, Joan Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, and that the name of the show was picked (it was one of the staff writers’ contribution) because there weren’t any other better choices. And Sesame Street definitely set its bars high, an act that would be tough to follow, thanks to great leadership and passionate, talented individuals who were driven by the goal to educate, the underprivileged especially. I was blown away by how much its leaders fought fearlessly in defending what they believed in. The success of Sesame Street definitely came with its own set of challenges despite its positive ratings and acceptance, but that didn’t stop the creators from continuing to grow and improve the show, and they were always open to feedback from its cast. And I couldn’t resist going to YouTube to view their very first episode launched in 1969! Wow, Big Bird wasn’t as ‘fluffy’ as she is today, and she was a little ‘greenish’ too! I didn’t grow up watching American TV shows so I’m definitely new to some other TV shows mentioned such as Zoom, Schoolhouse Rock! (brainchild of 2 admen, just like Dr Seuss!) The Electric Company, New Zoo Revue and The Magic Garden. Of course I went on YouTube to check them out! And I can see why many fell in love with them, especially The Electric Company and Zoom. Love those kids in Zoom! I even checked out the ‘arm thing’ by Bernadette in the book, and I still have yet to get it right! Here, you try 🙂 This is an eye-opening, well-researched book that went behind the scenes of important and influential TV shows which made a difference in the lives of many children – children of different races, gender, ages, class, but of course not without their own challenges like seeking federal funding, finding the right people to work with, audience to please, parents and children, educators and harsh critics. Criticisms such as these shocked and appalled me: Sesame Street was accused of ‘pervasive anti-feminism’; Mr Rogers, seen ‘through an adult lens, a total weirdo’ in his TV program, and was portrayed as a ‘wimp’ in comedian’s send-ups. TV programs aired during that period also strove to address sensitive issues such as death and loss (Mr Hooper, FDR’s assassination) and fear (going to the hospital), race (controversy when using Roosevelt Franklin, the black muppet on Sesame Street) and even facing those issues themselves: Mobley, a crew from Zoom, was asked once during a bathroom break, if his sperm was black; and when the creators of Free to Be…You and Me were trying to find a major record label, one music executive said, “What would I want with a record produced by a bunch of dykes?”, Hart recalled. And a lot of research have gone into making these TV programs, from the use of jingles and music and animation, hiring professionals, to the movement of camera (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood), and camera lighting on colored people (Sesame Street). It gave me a new perspective on children TV program, and I’m going to be watching them in a whole new different light now. It’s such a shame that Sesame Street have been bought over by HBO and wouldn’t be as accessible as before. I’d recommend this book to those who love to learn more about children TV programming in the late 60’s and 70’s. Ezra Jack Keats and Mauric Sendak made some cameo appearances too! Overall an eye-opening, informative read – not too heavy that you’d feel overwhelmed with information, and not too light that you’d feel its just fluff. Thank you Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I thought this was a pretty enjoyable read- not my typical genre. The book was about the cultural Zeitgeist that was educational children's programming in the 70s. Its focus (as the cover suggests) is mostly Sesame Street, but other children's educational shows were highlighted as well. I would say that the book sticks pretty well to the theme that the creators of the kid's TV shows were motivated by a higher calling and progressive values. It is somewhat refreshing given that many books are a b I thought this was a pretty enjoyable read- not my typical genre. The book was about the cultural Zeitgeist that was educational children's programming in the 70s. Its focus (as the cover suggests) is mostly Sesame Street, but other children's educational shows were highlighted as well. I would say that the book sticks pretty well to the theme that the creators of the kid's TV shows were motivated by a higher calling and progressive values. It is somewhat refreshing given that many books are a bit meandering. I especially liked how they described how Sesame Street did an honest job trying to reach and appeal to children of low socioeconomic classes and the critiques they received. Outside of Sesame Street, I enjoyed the parts about feminism's reach into children's programming. The book could have been a little tighter with actual statistics about how educational programming helped children. It was mostly anecdotal, though the author does mention that the creators didn't completely match its anticipated goals, while complimenting their candor. It also name checked so much it was hard to keep up with everyone. It is rather disappointing to read about the failure of new administrations in letting go of the goals of educational programming (particularly their reach), though the author leaves off any programs that are created exclusively on streaming platforms. Still, I thought it was inspirational how the creators were genuinely trying to help children learn and how committed they were to these goals. Recommend this book if- you are a fan of Sesame Street, you are an educator (particularly of early childhood education), or perhaps if you are a parent of young kids.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Avid

    4.5 stars. I remember being told one day in preschool (they called it nursery school at the time) to be sure to watch this brand new show they were putting on just for 4-year-olds, beginning that afternoon on Channel 11 (chicago). They told us how important it was that we watch it with our parents and be prepared to talk about it in class the next day. I don’t remember much about the first episode, but i do remember i loved it. Sesame Street’s characters, both human and muppet, became like famil 4.5 stars. I remember being told one day in preschool (they called it nursery school at the time) to be sure to watch this brand new show they were putting on just for 4-year-olds, beginning that afternoon on Channel 11 (chicago). They told us how important it was that we watch it with our parents and be prepared to talk about it in class the next day. I don’t remember much about the first episode, but i do remember i loved it. Sesame Street’s characters, both human and muppet, became like family to me. The show was a huge influence in my life for a couple of really formative years. Right place, right time, i suppose. (I still have the album i got for xmas the next year.) I was expecting this book to be all about the making of Sesame Street. And it was, but not quite the way i expected. The book covers the times - from a historical and creative and political perspective. So it’s not limited to the one show. Many of my other favorites from my childhood are here, as well, along with the explanation for why and how some lasted and others didn’t. There is more attention paid to the politics and history of children’s tv than to the mechanics of producing the various shows. If it’s not already, this book should be classified as sociology or history, rather than film/tv. It’s a serious and informative discussion of the late-60s/early-70s programming environment and who its influencers were. I listened on audio, but i suspect the printed book probably has cool pictures. The audio narrator was sort of mediocre, too. So I recommend the print version, if you can get your hands on it. I think anyone who has fond memories of early children’s tv will really appreciate this read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    I did NOT want this book to end AND it was perfect. So much cultural, musical, and political history here! I was most surprised by the music! Luther Vandross has his first national exposure on Sesame Street! And on and on. Read it and relive your childhood but through an adult lens—the one have now because of shows like Sesame Street. 6 stars! No, 12!

  16. 4 out of 5

    JZ

    It’s a love story to the street on which so many American children grew up. It is also a call to action for us to collectively make the most of new technologies instead of succumbing to their baser elements.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Reighley

    Suddenly my entire life path and all my social attitudes make perfect sense. Thank you, Mr. Kamp for such a detailed account of the dedicated individuals who revolutionized TV for kids throughout my early formative years. I loved every page, but especially p. 198 when Lady Miss Kier pops up in the section on "New Zoo Revue."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Harry Jahnke

    Fascinating stuff! A lovely look at the past with an optimistic look for the future.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Wright

    I really enjoyed this book! Learning about the research, funding, psychology, and everything that went into the start of Sesame Street and many other kids shows was so intriguing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aron Wagner

    More than simply an enjoyable trip through nostalgia-land, Kamp's book helped me put my childhood in historical context. Lots of interesting stories, inspiring personalities, and intriguing philosophy on the purpose and power of media for children.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is a complete, detailed history of Sesame Street as well as other children's shows of the 1960s and 1970s. At times, it read like a textbook, and it's obvious the author did a lot of research for it. I was hoping for something more like a memoir, though. I clearly remember when Sesame Street first aired. I was a little too old for it, but my sister and younger cousins were the perfect age., and I did watch it on-and-off over the years. Really the only reason I skimmed so much of the last ha This is a complete, detailed history of Sesame Street as well as other children's shows of the 1960s and 1970s. At times, it read like a textbook, and it's obvious the author did a lot of research for it. I was hoping for something more like a memoir, though. I clearly remember when Sesame Street first aired. I was a little too old for it, but my sister and younger cousins were the perfect age., and I did watch it on-and-off over the years. Really the only reason I skimmed so much of the last half of the book was because of the many many details and information on shows and people I wasn't familiar with. This was a complex history of not only children's television but also of the politics and social justice issues of the time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    6girlsmom

    I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. This book takes at look at the birth of children’s educational television programs in a way that is not too dry or bland to read. David Kamp wrote a book that starts with the lack of quality television shows at the medium’s inception, and how key individuals saw a need and/or answered the call to change that. He touches on beloved classics such as Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Captain Kangeroo, trailblazers like Ses I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. This book takes at look at the birth of children’s educational television programs in a way that is not too dry or bland to read. David Kamp wrote a book that starts with the lack of quality television shows at the medium’s inception, and how key individuals saw a need and/or answered the call to change that. He touches on beloved classics such as Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Captain Kangeroo, trailblazers like Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and follow ups like Zoom or Free To Be...You and Me, walking us from concept to development, highlighting both push back and accolades experienced by the teams that brought these shows to life. I did not expect this book to be about so many children’s television programs when I picked it up. I really expected it to be a sort of feel good, memoir-esque book about Sesame Street, but it was so much more than that. Mr. Kamp showed a well researched knowledge of many of the political and cultural nuances that shaped the shows that so many of us grew up with. I was born in 1970, so this book was like a stroll down memory lane for me. While I was a few years too young to remember the earliest days of Sesame Street, I vividly recall many of the sequences related in the book. Some of the shows referenced were either gone before I was old enough for them, or regional shows unavailable to me, but most of them were staples in our house, and I found it interesting to read all of the behind the scenes production information.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Giano

    As a child who grew up on Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, this book was a trip down memory lane. While I was born in the 1980s, far after the beginning of these shows, I have fond memories of both. It was heartwarming to read about where it all began, and the many struggles its creators faced. I had no idea the history of these shows, as well as others like The Electric Factory. By the time I was introduced to them, they were very much a part of the American culture and childhood. I As a child who grew up on Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, this book was a trip down memory lane. While I was born in the 1980s, far after the beginning of these shows, I have fond memories of both. It was heartwarming to read about where it all began, and the many struggles its creators faced. I had no idea the history of these shows, as well as others like The Electric Factory. By the time I was introduced to them, they were very much a part of the American culture and childhood. I was fascinated to read of their origins, and how they shaped the education and childhood of generations of Americans. The information was presented in an easy to read, engaging way that kept me interested for the most part. There were, however, many more names and shows included that I had originally thought there would be, and at times the book felt dry, with a lot of information thrown in. The author obviously spent a great deal of time researching children’s television and programming, and packed a ton of information into the text. Overall, this was an informative read, and a great text for all of us that grew up with these shows. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    A history of the advent of educational children's television in the late 60s and 70s. As one might expect a large portion of the book is devoted to Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. A number of other shows are covered though. It was an interesting and informative read, but I found the parts about all the shows I never watched and many I had never even heard of less interesting. This wasn't bad, but I would definitely recommend Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis over A history of the advent of educational children's television in the late 60s and 70s. As one might expect a large portion of the book is devoted to Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. A number of other shows are covered though. It was an interesting and informative read, but I found the parts about all the shows I never watched and many I had never even heard of less interesting. This wasn't bad, but I would definitely recommend Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis over this book, especially if you're primarily interested in Sesame Street.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I liked this one but it sometimes felt a bit like a textbook. It’s really almost like the definitive history of children’s television instead of being solely focused on Sesame Street. It was fascinating to learn about Sesame Street’s social justice origins - originally envisioned as a show to help prep underprivileged kids for school and try to help level the playing field. The cast was diverse from the start for this reason.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Sunny Days is the story of children’s educational television from the era of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street, to Schoolhouse Rock/Electric Company/Zoom. Barney gets brief and apologetic mention at the end. [Kamp writes: Barney wasn’t as neurotic as Big Bird. Barney was on TV primarily to cheer and entertain, not to teach or help kids explore the idea, as Fred Rogers had put it decades earlier, that ‘feelings are mentionable and manageable.”] I loved reading about these programs even Sunny Days is the story of children’s educational television from the era of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street, to Schoolhouse Rock/Electric Company/Zoom. Barney gets brief and apologetic mention at the end. [Kamp writes: Barney wasn’t as neurotic as Big Bird. Barney was on TV primarily to cheer and entertain, not to teach or help kids explore the idea, as Fred Rogers had put it decades earlier, that ‘feelings are mentionable and manageable.”] I loved reading about these programs even though I pretty much skirted them in my lifetime. I grew up on Romper Room (the “aggressively wholesome syndicated program that featured characters named Mr. Do Bee and Mr. Don’t Bee”) and Captain Kangaroo. I was in high school by the time Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street launched. My own children came of TV-watching age in the late 90s-2000s. They were clearly aware of Sesame Street because I remember making a Cookie Monster cake for one birthday, and Prairie Dawn for another. But this was well beyond the groundbreaking years in which humans of varied races interacted with the Muppets, or Mr. Rogers invited a Black police officer to share his wading pool and towel. It’s a wonder educational programs like Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street got off the ground. Interesting that these simple programs arose in the same year man landed on the moon. So much aspiration at that time! I miss it. One of my favorite parts of Sunny Days was revisiting the music associated with these TV shows and learning of the strong jazz influence. I will forever recall the smooth voices of “I’m just a Bill on Capitol Hill” and “Conjunction Junction, What’s My Function?” on Schoolhouse Rock (which did not live up to its “Rock” name in the least). All these songs are on YouTube, which was especially useful for the later programs that did not ring a bell with me at all. Also interesting to read how these shows attracted commentary from all sides around issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation—yet forged right ahead with occasional tweaks to recognize where they’d gotten it a little wrong to start. For instance, character Susan on Sesame started out with a subservient wife role. Women objected. When the Children’s Television Network returned Susan to her pre-marriage profession of nurse, men associated with the show had some heartburn because “if you were a successful black man, your wife didn’t work.” These issues were addressed head on without bringing the program to its knees. Smart, confident people with freedom of decision making and a shared desire to teach children. Makes one nostalgic for those days.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    As the subtitle suggests, Sunny Days chronicles the children’s television revolution that took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Television was still a fairly new medium and up to that point, kids’ shows had been shouty, slapstick shows like Howdy Doody or Soupy Sales. It had not occurred to anyone that television could be used to educate children. Educational programming began with the inception of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and Sesame Street. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was a gentle program, f As the subtitle suggests, Sunny Days chronicles the children’s television revolution that took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Television was still a fairly new medium and up to that point, kids’ shows had been shouty, slapstick shows like Howdy Doody or Soupy Sales. It had not occurred to anyone that television could be used to educate children. Educational programming began with the inception of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and Sesame Street. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was a gentle program, focused on children’s feelings and their inner selves, while Sesame Street was a fast paced program focused on preschoolers, specifically disadvantaged preschoolers, learning their letters, shapes and numbers. From there, children’s television took off with other shows such as Schoolhouse Rock and Free to Be You and Me. A good portion of Sunny Days is focused on Sesame Street, which makes sense because they started it all. I didn’t realize how much painstaking research went into developing the show before it started filming. It’s no accident that it’s so successful and that it actually does teach children. It’s amazing how progressive it was in the beginning years. I don’t think a children’s show could get away with showing a mother actually breastfeeding her child in today’s world, like Sesame Street did when Buffy nursed her son Cody and explained what she was doing to Big Bird. They also broke ground in terms of how diverse the cast was. Even though most of the shows in this book other than Sesame Street were just a few years before my time, I still thoroughly enjoyed this history of children’s television. I bookmarked several things that I’m going to search for on YouTube so that hopefully I can see them for myself. The only problem I had with Sunny Days is that there are so many people – producers, writers, creators, etc. who are mentioned throughout that it was hard to keep track of who was who. I would have loved a list of people and their job descriptions for reference. Even if you’re a young whippersnapper and you didn’t grow up watching these shows, I think you’ll still enjoy this book – especially if you have an interest in pop culture. Recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    6girlsmom

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book takes at look at the birth of children’s educational television programs in a way that is not too dry or bland to read. David Kamp wrote a book that starts with the lack of quality television shows at the medium’s inception, and how key individuals saw a need and/or answered the call to change that. He touches on beloved classics such as Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Captain Kangeroo, trailblazers like Sesame Street and T I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book takes at look at the birth of children’s educational television programs in a way that is not too dry or bland to read. David Kamp wrote a book that starts with the lack of quality television shows at the medium’s inception, and how key individuals saw a need and/or answered the call to change that. He touches on beloved classics such as Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Captain Kangeroo, trailblazers like Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and follow ups like Zoom or Free To Be...You and Me, walking us from concept to development, highlighting both push back and accolades experienced by the teams that brought these shows to life. I did not expect this book to be about so many children’s television programs when I picked it up. I really expected it to be a sort of feel good, memoir-esque book about Sesame Street, but it was so much more than that. Mr. Kamp showed a well researched knowledge of many of the political and cultural nuances that shaped the shows that so many of us grew up with. I was born in 1970, so this book was like a stroll down memory lane for me. While I was a few years too young to remember the earliest days of Sesame Street, I vividly recall many of the sequences related in the book. Some of the shows referenced were either gone before I was old enough for them, or regional shows unavailable to me, but most of them were staples in our house, and I found it interesting to read all of the behind the scenes production information.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Arleen

    As a graduate student in Human Development in the early to mid 1970's, I found myself fortunate to be close to the center of education and research regarding the impact of television on children. Exposure to several of the agencies and researchers associated with the programs described in Kamp's book were familar and therefore, fascinating to connect with my interest in the field. Kamp manages to develop a timeline and integrates the power of concerned, determined and talented individuals who ma As a graduate student in Human Development in the early to mid 1970's, I found myself fortunate to be close to the center of education and research regarding the impact of television on children. Exposure to several of the agencies and researchers associated with the programs described in Kamp's book were familar and therefore, fascinating to connect with my interest in the field. Kamp manages to develop a timeline and integrates the power of concerned, determined and talented individuals who made this "experiment" a long term success. However, I cannot say I breezed through the book as a light read. This was serious business. The impact of these programs was highly significant to the development of children across the range of socio-economic levels. I do think the intertwining relationships among many of the "actors" in this scenario were of less interest to me than the connection between their work and the long term impact on children and families. Knowing how difficult the germination of this genre was for these players, it is disappointing to think that so much of CTW's impact became highly commercial just considering character filled toys, "videos", somehwat less so books, clothing and and other paraphenalia with much less being aligned with the educational and applications to schools and family needs. A good resource to the educational community, and perhaps moreso to the business of entertainment. Cannot minimize the impact of nostalgia for some of us.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    Likely most of us will pick this book up from a sense of nostalgia, and while it satisfies on that level, it also illuminates, giving us an insight into the battles fought and the work that went into creating the Children's Television Workshop and Sesame Street, which, as Kamp says at the end, is still the gold standard of children's TV--everything else, stands on its shoulders. I am grateful that my memories of the show, and of The Electric Company (pretty much all I got to watch, besides Mr. R Likely most of us will pick this book up from a sense of nostalgia, and while it satisfies on that level, it also illuminates, giving us an insight into the battles fought and the work that went into creating the Children's Television Workshop and Sesame Street, which, as Kamp says at the end, is still the gold standard of children's TV--everything else, stands on its shoulders. I am grateful that my memories of the show, and of The Electric Company (pretty much all I got to watch, besides Mr. Rogers...) are still good ones, even after learning all the back history of the actors and the executives. A lengthy chapter on Marlo Thomas and Free to Be...You and Me was very well done, and made me realize how deeply that record affected me: some 40 years later I can still remember every tune, every lyric, every sketch. An engrossing, lovely read for everyone who grew up in the 70s, but besides that, this book is a tasteful tribute to the folks who cared enough about preschoolers, early learning, kids in poverty and leveling the playing field, and transliteracy, (all commonplace notions today, but groundbreaking 50 years ago), to take chances. The name Joan Ganz Cooney is not one I'd ever heard before, but now, we know to thank her. Adult.

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