The “sleepcast,” as Headspace’s sleep-focused podcasts are called, is designed to “create the right conditions for healthy, restful sleep.” The 12-episode, 20-minute long “Goodnight, World!” episodes are hosted by Alan, the owner of Hooper’s Store, alongside other Sesame Street characters, including Big Bird, Oscar and Abby. Each episode will include wind-down exercises for kids, a story that spans various global locations as well as familiar Sesame Street locations like Oscar’s trash can and Big Bird’s nest, and soothing music and soundscapes.
The two companies are also partnering with Penguin Random House to launch a six-book series, “Monster Meditation,” modeled after the animated shorts of the same name that have been viewed over 30 million times on YouTube. The book series will include the same characters, themes and plots as the video series to “help children learn the fundamentals of mindfulness, meditation and social and emotional learning.” The first two books will be released this year: “Being Patient With Cookie Monster” in June and “Getting Ready for Bed With Elmo” in September.
“Sesame Workshop and Headspace have created something truly exceptional with their Sesame Street Monster Meditation video series,” says Sonali Fry, VP and director of classic brands and preschool publishing at Random House Children’s Books. “Through entertaining stories that feature fan-favorite Sesame Street characters, they provide young children with valuable mindfulness techniques. We are excited to continue their mission through our new collection of board book adaptations, which will introduce emergent readers to a variety of helpful meditation exercises for every occasion.”
The books were the “natural next step” from the videos, says Morgan Selzer, Headspace’s vice president of content. “I think we’re all looking for quality content that might help our kids have a better bedtime routine. That’s always a pain point for both parents.”
The past year in particular has been tough on families with small children. There was a “big spike” in consumption of content on Headspace, said Selzer, as well as in demand from parents asking for this type of content. (Headspace and Sesame Street first teamed up in April 2020.) Headspace’s download rate doubled in mid-March of last year, at the outset of the pandemic; users also turned to its sleep music at increased rates toward the end of 2020, with usage up 33%.
“We are so committed to introducing mindfulness and meditation to children, as early as three years old,” said Selzer. “The mission of our company is to improve the health and happiness world… How you navigate your emotions is really important, and learning skills when you’re feeling upset or feeling frustrated, or you’re having trouble focusing or calming down — those skills, if you can learn early in life, will just pay off down the road more and more.”
The podcast series is produced by Headspace Studios, written by Catherine Pond and executive produced by Otis Gray. Betsy Loredo is producing for Sesame Workshop. Scott Sorenson, Chris Murguia and Gray created the sound design, with additional production by Bri LeRose, Gabe Younes and Emma Nemtin. Leah Sutherland, Morgan Selzer and Sam Rogoway are exec producing for Headspace Studios.
“Sesame Workshop has always innovated with mass media to provide kids with trusted educational content and deepen our engagement with fans and families,” said Ed Wells, Sesame Workshop’s EVP and head of global media and education. “Our latest evolution in podcasting showcases again the adaptability and universality of the Sesame Street brand and is a reminder of how uniquely powerful our iconic and loveable characters are in any medium.”
“Educating kids is about more than ABCs and 123s — it’s also about building foundational social-emotional skills they’ll carry with them for life,” he added. “That’s why we’re thrilled to work with an industry leader like Headspace to support kids’ mental and emotional wellbeing as they learn and grow!”