Elmo may have breathed new life into the flagging children's program, but the cool monsters were already there (these monsters were, of course, cute and fuzzy). I understand why Elmo was picked. He's red (i.e. flashy) and talks and thinks like a child. I think this was done to catch a wider audience, but let me explain why I think Grover is still a better character.
He Was An Adult Learning With Kids
|Don't Look Grover! Hairy Monster Behind You!|
Imagine that. An adult learning from kids.
Just think what that does to a child's morale when they understand something that an older person doesn't. I believe this was his biggest teaching technique.
He Always Tried New Things
Grover was very curious and from a child's perspective, almost everything they experience is new and sometimes confusing. But when someone older can say, "Wow! I didn't know that," it shows kids that they're not alone. It gives them an ally they can stand with when things get confusing or frightening. Since Grover didn't know a lot of things himself, he had a full world to explore.
As a writer, I've learned that this is a successful tool many published authors use to give exposition. A character who doesn't know something, gives the opportunity to teach.
|A Must Read!|
Nothing stopped Grover from doing something. Well... sometimes. Crazy fits ensued if he got too frightened or impatient. But he always tried.
My all-time favorite children's book is, The Monster at the end of this Book. If you have children, I can't recommend this one enough to you. One word of warning though, this is a book you HAVE to read to your kids and it will cause endless requests for re-reads.
The premise of the book is in the title. Grover is a participant with the reader in the book (just as he is on Sesame Street) and suddenly realizes he doesn't want to see the monster at the end of the book.
|Stop Turning Pages!|
Monsters are scary after all...
But the reader keeps turning pages (even better when you let the kids turn the pages)! So Grover is forced to come up with elaborate ways to prevent pages being turned. With fun illustrations, this book gives the reader an opportunity to let out their inner ham as they portray the rapidly panicking Grover. And if you can read the book in Grover's voice, it's even better.
There is also an interactive app that reads the book to kids (available for the same price as the book - $3.99). [Click here to see a video of it on YouTube]
So when you're watching a show, consider the characters and who their target audience is. Think about why they work or don't work. And if you're writing a book, think about your target audience and how you can best make your characters into the reader's close friends.