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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  519 ratings  ·  103 reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published May 12th 2020 by Simon & Schuster
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May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jacob Ryckman
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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'
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
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. ...more
3.5 stars
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 :) ...more
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 1970s
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. ...more
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
Hannah McMurphy
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it liked it
I picked this up because I really wanted behind the scenes stories and really the TV history it made. And the book did touch on that, but there was just a little bit too much of the business side of it all. I struggled but finished. If you don't mind the business stuff, you'll get both that and the nostalgia aspect as well. ...more
Porter Broyles
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Terry P
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
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
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It's really not all that often that I get the privilege and pleasure of reading a nonfiction work that is not only informative but also manages to provide some doses of positivity and cheering up. Sunny Days provides a broad, light, and extremely enjoyable history of those who decided that TV's ever-growing party of daily life could be harnessed for the intentional benefit of children across the country.

I will confess that as someone who is a Muppet fan to an occasional fault, I particularly en
Maybe it's because I've read several extensive biographies of Mister Rogers and Jim Henson that I feel like a lot of the conversations that Kamp brings up I've "heard" before. Yes, this focus is different because it discusses the revolution specifically to a breadth of shows and the memorable quote about not hiring teachers to be tv professionals but tv professionals to be teachers. Yes, totally get it and understand it.

The intricacies of each show and the dynamics of the cast and show creators
Jan 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone grew up on Sesame Street. Not the Elmo-fied Sesame Street of now, but the Sesame Street when it wasn't owned by the Children's Television Workshop. When you still had some of the creative cast on board that had been there since the beginning.

I learned what I could from reading Jim Henson's biography and Street Gang, but I wanted to know more about the life of PBS or Children's Television Workshop. Where did they begin? Why did they set out to do what they had to do? What was it like be
Daniel Kukwa
It wasn't quite as enlightening & nostalgic as I was expecting. Much of the Sesame Street & Mister Rogers background is available in-depth in other books, and number of the other series covered were very obscure...although this book worked best in its overview of The Electric Company & Schoolhouse Rock. I was hoping for more of a love-in, and a look back at a more unique era...I do get some of that, but so much more could have been explored, perhaps with a few more shared anecdotal memories of t ...more
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
John Zugelder
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.
Kurt Reighley
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
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." ...more
Harry Jahnke
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating stuff! A lovely look at the past with an optimistic look for the future.
Brittany Wright
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aron Wagner
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Haley Hubbard
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was a really fun and informative read! I kept catching myself telling family and friends cool things I learned along the way. What struck me was how children’s television (a pretty obvious good guy) was hit with criticism from both sides of the aisle. This was a great way to learn about children’s television, but also learn about social and political movements in the 70s and 80s that changed the way children were raised. I’m so glad I read this book!
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
This engaging book shows what enlightened people at their very best are capable of doing. It gives me hope that our society can set these kinds of goals for social equity, harmony, and intellect and try to meet them in the future, too. Really good book to read at this juncture in the civil (not so civil) life in the United States.
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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
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 ...more
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David Kamp is an author, journalist, lyricist, and humorist. Among his books are the national bestseller The United States of Arugula (Broadway Books, 2006), a chronicle of America’s foodways; the critically lauded Sunny Days (Simon & Schuster, May 2020), a history of the Sesame Street-Mister Rogers era of enlightened children’s television; and, as co-author, Martin Short’s bestselling memoir, I M ...more

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“Rogers exulted in his choice to work in television. “I’m more convinced than ever that ‘Children’s Corner’ is God’s program,” he wrote. “There’s no doubt about it now in my mind that we are being well guided: whatever happens from now on I know will be for the best. Just too many factors have come together today for it to be ‘man-planned.” 1 likes
“Indeed, in the early 1970s, as the first crop of Sesame “graduates” entered the school system, kindergarten and first-grade teachers noticed a palpable difference in how knowledgeable their newest pupils were. Some teachers even complained that their lesson plans had been upset by their students’ unforeseen preparedness.” 1 likes
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