In School or at Home, Sesame Street Supports Families as Kids Adjust to a New Normal This Back-to-School Season

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New book Heroes Wear Masks models a back-to-school experience altered by COVID-19, while other books, videos, educational games, and more support at-home learning

(NEW YORK, NY) – As schools and day care centers reopen, millions of preschoolers and kindergarteners will need to follow new and unfamiliar safety measures at school. Other children will start the year learning online, with all the challenges that brings for students and parents alike. Young children may find the new guidelines and restrictions put in place because of COVID-19 confusing, but Sesame Street is here to help!

For children heading back to school in person, Heroes Wear Masks: Elmo’s Super Adventure (Sourcebooks) is a new picture book that will help them manage jitters and understand the changes coming to their classrooms and playrooms. The story follows Elmo’s day at school, from waking up in the morning to coming home in the afternoon. Things are a little different at Elmo’s school: kids will see their Sesame Street friends wearing masks, having their temperatures checked, and social distancing during the school day. Available September 15, Heroes Wear Masks also includes language that parents and caregivers can use when talking to young children about handwashing, face masks, and back-to-school anxiety.

“Kids identify with the Sesame Street Muppets in a powerful way – it’s one of the most special things about them. When they see friends like Elmo, Big Bird, and Abby Cadabby adjusting to something new, and a little scary—like wearing a mask to school—they realize that it’s not so bad,” said Gabriela Arenas, Sesame Workshop’s Vice President of Licensing, North America. “We hope that resources like Heroes Wear Masks will help families through their back-to-school transitions in this difficult time.”

For some families, back-to-school will mean digital lessons and distance learning; Sesame Street books can supplement learning in areas like literacy, early math, STEM readiness, and more. The My First 101 series (Skyhorse) is a collection of photo-filled activity books that reinforce simple but important words – dog, tree, apple, earth – and build kids’ critical thinking skills with engaging questions. Welcoming Words: A Sesame Street Language Guide to Making Friends (Lerner) teaches greetings and other friendly vocabulary in six languages. S is for School (Random House) is an interactive lift-the-flap book that offers an evergreen look at a typical first day of school. Elmo’s Lift-and-Slide ABC (Studio Fun) includes lots of lift-the-flaps and sliding tabs to keep little hands engaged as kids practice the alphabet. The Sesame Street Me Reader (Phoenix International Publications/PI Kids) is an electronic e-reader library loaded with eight read-along stories; kids can choose a book and hear the story read aloud with character voices, while following along in the included print copy.

Sesame Street videos, music, and educational games support at-home learning, too. In award-winning app Elmo Loves ABCs, kids practice tracing letters to unlock videos and other surprises. Parents can add their own photos and videos to personalize the experience and follow their children’s progress with an in-app tracker. The app is available for tablets and smartphones, along with the numerical version, Elmo Loves 123s. Available on DVD and digital download, the Awesome Alphabet Collection (Shout! Factory) offers two hours of Sesame Street moments for every letter from A to Z, and digital album What’s the Number? (Arts Music) collects modern favorites including Count von Count’s “Number of the Day” song.

To help parents foster playful learning every day, Ready for School! A Parent’s Guide to Playful Learning for Children Ages 2-5 (Running Press) is a parenting guide based on Sesame Street’s school readiness curriculum. Author Dr. Rosemarie Truglio — a child development expert who has been guiding Sesame Street’s curriculum for more than 20 years — helps parents find the teaching opportunities hidden in plain sight: at the kitchen table, on the bus, at the grocery store, or in the park. This easy-to-use reference is packed with activities, tips, and resources to tap children’s natural eagerness to learn.

For more support from Sesame Workshop – the nonprofit organization behind the beloved show – parents can find curated back-to-school playlists on Sesame Street’s YouTube channel and free COVID-19 resources on the regularly updated Sesame Street: Caring for Each Other hub. In collaboration with the California Governor’s Office, the Skoll Foundation, and Participant, Sesame Workshop has also produced a series of three PSAs to promote mask-wearing and other healthy habits. The first message – a conversation between Elmo and Louie as Elmo heads back to preschool – can be found on Sesame Street’s YouTube channel.

About Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit


Brit Edwards