Shows like "Sesame Street," "Little Einsteins" and "Super Why!" may seem a little babyish after a while. But if you still love watching them, there could be a very grown-up reason: They're great shows! And the reason behind that? Talented writers.
You could grow up to be a writer for children's television. Jennifer Hamburg did. (She's also author of the picture book A Moose That Says Moo and creator of Dramatic Fanatic mystery theater parties for kids). Here's what she has to say about her career. Learn more at www.jenniferhamburg.com.
How did you get your first job writing for children's television?
I went to grad school to study Educational Psychology. After I graduated, I was hired to do research for a "Blue's Clues" spin-off called "Blue's Room." They knew I was interested in writing (because I kept reminding them!). After that job was finished, they asked me to stay on as an assistant writer.
What did you like most about the job?
I really got to see the ins and outs of how a TV script was written. Every show is different. For some the writers work together. They brainstorm ideas and each leave with specific writing assignments. Other times writers get a treatment and a deadline and work on their own.
How long does it take to write a script?
Two weeks is typical for writing a script and maybe one week for a revision. Sometimes I’m asked how long I need, and other times I’m given the date and time to hand it in.
What's the biggest challenge writing for children's television?
I write for many different shows now. Each show has a specific tone, feel, style of humor, etc. My job as a writer is to take my writer “personality” and fit it into the particular show I’m writing for. It’s harder than it sounds!
Also, lots of preschool shows have specific lesson plans for each episode. I need to include learning moments in the story, which can be tricky.
What's your favorite part of writing for children's television?
I like diving into a new script and going over and over it until it sounds just right. I think of rewriting as a creative exercise. I think of it as a puzzle - a very, creative, fun puzzle! I'm inspired by the shows I write for, and each script makes me a better writer. Most of all, I love knowing that my work is making kids smile.