Random House Children’s Books is publishing six board books for children ages 2–5, under the series name Sesame Street Monster Meditation, tied to six mindfulness videos created by Headspace and Sesame Workshop. The animated videos have been viewed more than 30 million times.
“There’s some need there that is making people watch these,” said Gabriela Arenas, Sesame Workshop’s v-p of licensing, North America. The licensor turned to its longtime partner Random House to create the board books, which follow the content of the three-minute videos closely.
The Monster Meditation books, like the animated shorts, teach preschoolers the fundamentals of feelings. The first title, releasing on June 29, is Being Patient with Cookie Monster, and the second is Getting Ready for Bed with Elmo, set for September 28. Three more titles will be published in 2022: Time to Focus, Grover!, in January; Time for School, Rosita!, in June, and Try, Try Again with Two-Headed Monster, about dealing with frustration, in September. Getting Over Disappointment with Elmo will wrap up the series in January 2023.
“We love the art style of the videos,” said Sonali Fry, v-p and director of classic brands and preschool publishing at Random House. “It’s different from the art style in any of our other books, but it is still recognizable as Sesame Street. It’s younger and more stylized and will set the books apart in the market.”
Random House has many non-licensed mindfulness titles under its Rodale Kids wellness imprint, including picture books such as Kira Willey’s Mindfulness Moments for Kids series, board books such as ABCs of Kindness, and activity books ranging from Find Your Happy Place to The Everybody Gets Anxious Activity Book.
After seeing how the mindfulness category had been exploding for several years, and before being introduced to the Headspace videos, the company decided to pair the topic with its Sesame Street publishing program. “Parents trust brands, especially Sesame Street,” Fry said. “And they turn to Sesame Street to discuss certain topics with their kids.”
The first title, in January 2021, was Elmo Is Mindful: How to Stay Focused, Calm, and Kind, a 10 x 10 lap-size format that preschoolers can read with their parents or caregivers to learn how to control their emotions. What If?: Answers to Calm First-Day-of-School Jitters, which features preschool Muppets including Elmo, Rosita, and Grover, debuted earlier this month. “These two books were created pre-pandemic, but the timing is perfect,” Fry said. “We know that anxiety is something that all of us—adults and kids—are definitely dealing with now more than ever.” While the Headspace deal is currently limited to six books, one for each video, Random House is developing more Sesame Street titles on mindfulness outside of that agreement.
On June 13, Sesame Workshop introduced a new venture with Headspace, a podcast called Goodnight World!, which helps young children calm down so they can fall asleep at bedtime. “We’re redoubling on wellness, and that includes physical as well as mental wellness,” Arenas said. “It’s very, very important for us.”