The 100 Greatest Children’s Books of All Time, According to 177 Books Experts from 56 Countries

Given the size and demographic profile of J. R. R. Tolkien’s fan base today, it’s easy to forget that he originally wrote The Hobbit for children. For generations of young readers, that novel has stood as the gateway into Tolkien’s much more complex and ambitious Lord of the Rings trilogy — also written for children, at least according to the new poll of 177 experts around the world conducted by the BBC to determine the 100 greatest children’s books of all time. In its results, The Lord of the Rings comes in around the middle, but The Hobbit takes fifth place, behind only the near-universally beloved titles The Little Prince, Pippi Longstocking, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and — at number one — Where the Wild Things Are.

Any reader who was a child in the past sixty years will know all of those books; any reader alive will know most of them. Throughout this top-100 list appear classics that have been in the children’s canon longer than any of us have been alive, like Anne of Green Gables, Treasure Island, and Little Women.

A great many works, from Goodnight Moon and The Cat in the Hat to A Wrinkle in Time and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler — joined it in the middle of the twentieth century. “Books published between the 1950s and 1970s were most prevalent,” says the BBC’s accompanying notes, “which may be related to the age profile of voters, the majority of whom were born in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Indeed, a glance through these results can hardly fail to bring back any of the earliest reading memories of any Generation Xer or millennial. Witness the prevalence of books by Roald Dahl: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, The Witches, Matilda. Even Danny, the Champion of the World, which I remember as relatively lackluster, just makes the cut. Of course, “the furor over the rewriting of Roald Dahl’s novels for modern sensibilities” has lately brought his work back into public discourse; that and other unrelated controversies over what books ought to be made available in school libraries have given us reason to consider once again what children’s literature is, or what it could and should be — a range of questions that kids themselves seem rather better equipped to address than many grown-ups. See the BBC’s complete list here.

via Kottke

Related content:

Discover J. R. R. Tolkien’s Little-Known and Hand-Illustrated Children’s Book Mr. Bliss

Hayao Miyazaki Selects His 50 Favorite Children’s Books

Read a Never Published, “Subversive” Chapter from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Enter an Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books, All Digitized and Free to Read Online

Maurice Sendak Animated; James Gandolfini Reads from Sendak’s Story “In The Night Kitchen”

A Digital Archive of Soviet Children’s Books Goes Online: Browse the Artistic, Ideological Collection (1917-1953)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” Performed by German 1st Graders in Cute Cardboard Robot Costumes

“Teach your children well” sang Crosby, Stills and Nash once upon a long ago, and that adage could be paraphrased as “make sure your students don’t grow up learning substandard pop songs. Give them a real education.” An enterprising elementary school teacher in Mombach, a district of the Rhineland city of Mainz, did so in 2015, dressing up his students from Lemmchen Elementary in their own handmade robot outfits and teaching them to sing the classic 1978 Kraftwerk hit “The Robots” (or “Roboter” if you own the German version, which you can hear below).

While the original prog-rockers turned electronic demigods tried to strip away as much of their humanity when playing live, you just can’t do it with kids. They’re just too cute, and their wobbly, shuffling attempts to be machines only warms the heart more. (Could their parents tell who was who, I wonder?) Their version of the music is similarly charming and pretty faithful, though it’s possibly played by instructor Lars Reimer. (An older class shows their faces and plays instruments in a more recent video, a cover of “Tanz” by Stoppok.) So yes, Mr. Reimer, you’re passing on some good musical taste.

Though Kraftwerk was often thought of as cold and artificial when they first arrived on the international music scene, the intervening years have only emphasized the romantic beauty of their (mostly major key) melodies. (See for example the Balanescu Quartet’s rendition of the same song below.)

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2016.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.

If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks!

Related Content:

Elementary School Kids Sing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” & Other Rock Hits: A Cult Classic Recorded in 1976

Kraftwerk’s First Concert: The Beginning of the Endlessly Influential Band (1970)

One Man Shows You How to Play Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” with Just One Synthesizer

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

The 1920s Lie Detector That Forced Suspected Criminals to Confess to a Skeleton

“In the criminal justice system,” the evergreen Law & Orders opening credits remind us, “the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.”

They fail to mention the life-sized skeleton with ghastly glowing eyes and a camera tucked away inside its skull.

That’s because no police department ever saw fit to put Helene Adelaide Shelby’s 1930 patent for a highly unusual “apparatus for obtaining criminal confessions and photographically recording them” into practice.

Ms. Shelby’s vision sought to transform the police interrogation room into a haunted house where the sudden appearance of the aforementioned skeleton would shock a guilty suspect into confession.

(Presumably an innocent person would have nothing to fear, other than sitting in a pitch black chamber where a truth-seeking skeleton was soon to manifest before their very eyes.)

The idea may have seemed slightly less far-fetched immediately following a decade when belief in Spiritualism flourished.

False mediums used sophisticated stagecraft to convince members of a gullible public that they were in the presence of the supernatural.

Perhaps Ms. Shelby took inspiration from Mysteries of the Seance and Tricks and Traps of Bogus Mediums: A Plea for Honest Mediums and Clean Work by “lifelong spiritualist” Edward D. Lunt. The section on “form materialization” provides plenty of concrete ideas for enacting such trickery.

Ms. Shelby’s proposed apparatus consisted of a “structure divided into two chambers:”

…one chamber of which is darkened to provide quarters in which the suspect is confined while being subjected to examination, the other chamber being provided for the examiner, the two chambers being separated from each other by a partition which is provided with a panel upon one side of which is mounted a figure in the form of a skeleton, the said skeleton having the rear J portion of the skull removed and the recording apparatus inserted therein.

The examiner was also tasked with voicing the skeleton, using appropriately spooky tones and a well-positioned megaphone.

As silly as Ms. Shelby’s invention seems nearly a hundred years after the patent was filed, it’s impressive for its robust embrace of technology, particularly as it pertains to capturing the presumably spooked suspect’s reaction:

The rear portion of the skull of the skeleton is removed and a camera casing is mounted in the panel extending into the skull, said camera being preferable of the continuously-moving film-type an having provisions for simultaneously recording pictures and sound waves, or reproducing these, as may be desired or required, the said camera impression upon the having an objective adapted to register with the nose, or other opening, in the skull. The eye-sockets are provided with bulbs adapted to impress different light intensities on the margins
 of the film, the central section of the film being arranged to receive the pictures, the variations in the light intensities of the bulbs being governed by means of the microphones, and selenium cells (not shown), which are included in the light circuit and tend to cause the fluctuations of the current to vary the intensity of the light for sound recording purposes, the density of the light film varying with the intensity of the light thus transmitted.

Ms. Shelby believed that a suspect whose confession had been recorded by the skeleton would have difficulty making a retraction stick, especially if photographs taken during the big reveal caught them with a guilty-looking countenance.

Writing on, Jonathan Kozlowski applauds Ms. Shelby’s impulse to innovate, even as he questions if “scaring a confession out of a guy by being really really creepy (should) be considered coercion:”

Shelby doesn’t seem to have gotten any credit for it and nor am I sure that Shelby was even the first to think of the idea, BUT if you remove the skeleton figure and the red lightbulbs staring into the criminal’s soul was this the inspiration of a mounted surveillance camera? 

Allow me to push it even further … imagine your department’s interview room. If you’ve got the camera in the corner (or multiple) let that be. Instead of the skeleton figure just put an officer standing in the corner with a recording body camera. The officer is just standing there. Staring. Sure that’s a MASSIVE waste of time and money – of course. I may be wrong, but if I’m being honest this seems like intimidation.

It also strikes us that the element of surprise would be a challenge to keep under wraps. All it would take is one freaked-out crook (innocent or guilty) blabbing to an underworld connection, “You wouldn’t believe the crazy thing that happened when they hauled me down to the station the other night…”

What sort of horrific special effect could force a guilty party to confess in the 21st century? Something way more dreadful than a skeleton with glowing red eyes, comedian Tom Scott‘s experiment below suggests.

Having enlisted creative technologist Charles Yarnold to build Ms. Shelby’s apparatus, he invited fellow YouTubers Chloe Dungate, Tom Ridgewell, and Daniel J Layton to step inside one at a time, hoping to identify which of them had nicked the cookie with which he had baited his crime-catching hook.

The participants’ reactions at the critical moment ranged from delighted giggles to a satisfying yelp, but the results were utterly inconclusive. Nobody ‘fessed up to stealing the cookies.

That’s not to say the apparatus couldn’t work with a subset of criminals on the lower end of elementary school age. Did they or didn’t they? Why not scar ‘em for life and find out?

via Atlas Obscura

Related Content 

Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Detection Kit”: A Toolkit That Can Help You Scientifically Separate Sense from Nonsense

The Polygraph: The Proto-Photocopy Machine Machine Invented in 1803 That Changed Thomas Jefferson’s Life

The Strange Story of Wonder Woman’s Creator William Moulton Marston: Polyamorous Feminist, Psychologist & Inventor of the Lie Detector

– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and Creative, Not Famous Activity Book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Why French Sounds So Unlike Spanish, Italian & Other Romance Languages, Even Though They All Evolved from Latin

French is known as the language of romance, a reputation that, whatever cultural support it enjoys, would be difficult to defend on purely linguistic grounds. But it wouldn’t be controversial in the least to call it a Romance language, which simply refers to its descent from the Latin spoken across the Roman Empire. In that category, however, French doesn’t come out on top: its 77 million speakers put it above Romanian (24 million) and Italian (67 million), but below Spanish (489 million) and Portuguese (283 million). If you know any one of these languages, you can understand at least a little of all the others, but French stands out for its relative lack of family resemblance.

“Why is acqua just eau?” asks Joshua Rudder, creator of the Youtube channel NativLang. “How are cambiar and casa related to change and chez?” He addresses the causes of these differences between modern-day French, Spanish, and Italian in the video above, which presents the historical-linguistic explanation in the form of a long and tricky recipe.

“Start preparing your ingredients 2000 years ago. Take a base of Latin,” ideally at least three centuries old. “Combine traces of Gaulish, because Celtic words will become sources of change.” Then, “gradually incorporate sound shifts, not uniformly: work them in to form a nice continuum, where the edges look distinct, but locally, it’s similar from place to place.”

This cooking session soon becomes a dinner party. Its most important attendees are the Franks next door, who come not empty-handed but bearing a few hundred Germanic words. In the fullness of time, “you might think that the sound of French would come from a single dialect in Paris. Instead, observe as it arises from social changes and urbanization, bringing together people who speak many varieties of oïl” — an old word for what Francophones now know as oui, and which now refers to the dialects spoken in the north of the country (as opposed to oc in the south) back then. Even this far into the process, we’ve come only to the point of making Middle French.

Modern French involves “a thick ganache of kingdom and colonization” spread far and wide. Subsequent “periods of revolution and Napoleon” put more touches on the languages, none of them finishing. Students of French today find themselves seated at an elaborate feast of unfamiliar sounds and rules governing those sounds, many of which may at first seem unpalatable or even indigestible. Yet some of those students will develop a taste for such linguistic fare, and even come to prefer it to the other Romance languages that go down easier. French continues to change in the twenty-first century, not least through its incorporation of askew anglicisms, yet somehow continues to remain a language apart. Therein, perhaps, lies the true meaning of vive la difference.

Related content:

Free French Lessons

What Shakespeare’s English Sounded Like, and How We Know It

What Ancient Latin Sounded Like, And How We Know It

Watch Ta-Nehisi Coates Speak French Before & After Attending Middlebury’s Immersion Program

Werner Herzog Lists All the Languages He Knows–and Why He Only Speaks French If (Literally) a Gun’s Pointed at His Head

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Art Collection of David Bowie: An Introduction

Today, it hardly surprises us when a successful, wealthy, and influential rock star has a large art collection. But David Bowie, ahead of the culture even at the outset of his career, began accruing art well before success, wealth, or influence. He put out his debut album when he was twenty years old, in 1967, and didn’t hesitate to create a “rock star” lifestyle as soon as possible thereafter. As the world now knows, however, rock stardom meant something different to Bowie than it did to the average mansion-hopping, hotel room-trashing Concorde habitué. When he bought art, he did so not primarily as a financial investment, nor as a bid for high-society respectability, but as a way of constructing his personal aesthetic and intellectual reality.

Bowie kept that project going until the end, and it was only in 2016, the year he died, that the public got to see just what his art collection included. The occasion was Bowie/Collector, a three-part auction at Sotheby’s, who also produced the new video above. It examines Bowie’s collection through five of its works that were particularly important to the man himself, beginning with Head of Gerda Boehm by Frank Auerbach, about which he often said — according to his art buyer and curator Beth Greenacre — “I want to sound like that painting looks.” Then comes Portrait of a Man by Erich Heckel, whose paintings inspired the recordings of Bowie’s acclaimed “Berlin period”: Low, “Heroes,” Lodger, and even Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, which Bowie produced.

As we’ve previously featured here on Open Culture, Bowie also loved furniture, none more so than the work of the Italian design collective known as Memphis. This video highlights his red Valentine typewriter, a pre-Memphis 1969 creation of the group’s co-founder Ettore Sottsass. “I typed up many of my lyrics on that,” Bowie once said. “The pure gorgeousness of it made me type.” Much later, he and Brian Eno were looking for ideas for the album that would become Outside, a journey that took them to the Gugging Institute, a Vienna psychiatric hospital that encouraged its patients to create art. He ended up purchasing several pieces by one patient in particular, a former prisoner of war named Johann Fischer, enchanted by “the sense of exploration and the lack of self-judgment” in those and other works of “outsider” art.

The video ends with a mask titled Alexandra by Beninese artist Romuald Hazoum, whom Bowie encountered on a trip to Johannesburg with his wife Iman. Like many of the artists whose work Bowie bought, Hazoumè is now quite well known, but wasn’t when Bowie first took an interest in him. Made of found objects such as what looks like a telephone handset and a vinyl record, Alexandra is one of a series of works that “play on expectations and stereotypes of African art, and are now highly sought after.” Bowieologists can hardly fail to note that the piece also shares its name with the daughter Bowie and Iman would bring into the world a few years later. That could, of course, be just a coincidence, but as Bowie’s collection suggests, his life and his art — the art he acquired as well as the art he made — were one and the same.

Related content:

Behold the Paintings of David Bowie: Neo-Expressionist Self Portraits, Illustrations of Iggy Pop, and Much More

96 Drawings of David Bowie by the “World’s Best Comic Artists”: Michel Gondry, Kate Beaton & More

Bowie’s Bookshelf: A New Essay Collection on The 100 Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life

How Aladdin Sane Became the Most Expensive Album Cover Ever — and David Bowie’s Defining Image

“David Bowie Is” — The First Major Exhibit Dedicated to Bowie Spans 50 Years & Features 300 Great Objects

Meet the Memphis Group, the Bob Dylan-Inspired Designers of David Bowie’s Favorite Furniture

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Behold the Bridges in India Made of Living Tree Roots

Living green walls and upcycled building materials are welcome environmentally-conscious design trends, but when it comes to sustainable architecture, the living root bridges made by indigenous Khasi and Jaintia people in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya have them beat by centuries.

These traditional plant-based suspension bridges make it much easier for villagers to travel to neighboring communities, markets and outlying farms by spanning the dense tropical rainforest’s many gorges and rivers.

Their construction requires patience, as builders train the aerial roots of well-situated, mature rubber fig trees into position using bamboo, old tree trunks, and wire for support, weaving more roots in as they become available.

This multi-generational construction project can take up to 30 years to complete. The carefully-tended bridges become sturdier with age, as the roots that form the deck and handrails thicken.

The village of Nongriat has one bridge that has been in place for 200-some years. An upper bridge, suspended directly overhead, is a hundred years younger.

As village head and lifelong resident Wiston Miwa told Great Big Story, above, when he was a child, people were leery of using the newer bridge, worried that it was not yet strong enough to be safe. Six decades later, villagers (and tourists) traverse it regularly.

Architect Sanjeev Shankar, in a study of 11 living root bridges, learned that new structures are loaded with stones, planks, and soil to test their weight bearing capacity. Some of the oldest can handle 50 pedestrians at once.

Humans are not the only creatures making the crossing. Bark deer and clouded leopards are also known travelers. Squirrels, birds, and insects settle in for permanent stays.

The Khasi people follow an oral tradition, and have little written documentation regarding their history and customs, including the construction of living root bridges.

Architect Ferdinand Ludwig, a champion of Baubotanik – or living plant construction – notes that there is no set design being followed. Both nature and the villagers tending to the growing structures can be considered the architects here:

When we construct a bridge or a building, we have a plan – we know what it’s going to look like. But this isn’t possible with living architecture. Khasi people know this; they are extremely clever in how they constantly analyze and interact with tree growth, and accordingly adapt to the conditions…How these roots are pulled, tied and woven together differ from builder to builder. None of the bridges looks similar.

The bridges, while remote, are becoming a bucket list destination for adventurers and ecotourists, Nongriat’s double bridge in particular.

The BBC’s Zinara Rathnayake reports that such outside interest has provided villagers with an additional source of income, as well as some predictable headaches – litter, inappropriate behavior, and overcrowding:

Some root bridges see crowds of hundreds at a time as tourists clamber for selfies, potentially overburdening the trees.

The Living Bridge Foundation, which works to preserve the living root bridges while promoting responsible ecotourism is seeking to have the area designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Related Content 

1,100 Delicate Drawings of Root Systems Reveals the Hidden World of Plants

The Secret Language of Trees: A Charming Animated Lesson Explains How Trees Share Information with Each Other

Daisugi, the 600-Year-Old Japanese Technique of Growing Trees Out of Other Trees, Creating Perfectly Straight Lumber

The Tree of Languages Illustrated in a Big, Beautiful Infographic

– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and Creative, Not Famous Activity Book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Jonathan Demme Turns the Kurt Vonnegut Story, “Who Am I This Time?,” Into a TV Movie, with Susan Sarandon & Christopher Walken in Starring Roles (1982)

Back in 1982, the PBS American Playhouse series aired Jonathan Demme’s made-for-TV film based on the Kurt Vonnegut story, “Who Am I This Time?” Now, thanks to the YouTube channel Chicken Soup for the Soul TV, you can watch the rarely-seen film online. The channel writes:

Mix together a small town community theatre’s shy leading man and the lovely telephone worker who moves into town and you have a perfect recipe for a delightful romantic comedy. Academy Award-winners Susan Sarandon and Christopher Walken star as the couple who discover that affairs of the heart on the stage may be a bit less complicated than continuing the romance off the stage. Director Jonathan Demme, an Academy Award-winner, deftly weaves this endearing tale of love in bloom from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s story.

While the video quality is grainy, the movie is still significant for serving as an early career vehicle for Sarandon, Walken and director Demme. This isn’t exactly ‘Before They Were Stars’ – after all, by 1982, Walken had already won an Oscar for “The Deer Hunter,”
Sarandon had already starred in “Rocky Horror” and been nominated for an Oscar for Atlantic City, and Demme, although still a decade away from his biggest work, had already directed the acclaimed “Melvin & Howard.”

Watch other complete films on the Chicken Soup for the Soul TV Youtube Channel, or on their free-standing website. Enjoy.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.

If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks!

via Metafilter

Related Content 

4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, Documentaries & More

Watch the New Trailer for a Kurt Vonnegut Documentary 40 Years In the Making

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Good Short Story

Hear Christopher Walken’s Wonderful Reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

Susan Sarandon Reads an Animated Version of Good Night Moon … Without Crying

How John Keats Writes a Poem: A Line-by-Line Breakdown of “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

The Greek term ekphrasis sounds rather exotic if you seldom come across it, but it refers to an act in which we’ve all engaged at one time or another: that is, describing a work of art. The best ekphrases make that description as vivid as possible, to the point where it becomes a work of art in itself. The English language offers no better-known example of ekphrastic poetry than John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” from 1819, which pulls off the neat trick of taking both its subject and its genre from the same ancient culture — among other virtues, of course, several of which are explained by Evan Puschak, better known as the Nerdwriter, in his new video above, “How John Keats Writes a Poem.”

Puschak calls “Ode on a Grecian Urn” “arguably the best poem from arguably the best romantic poet,” then launches into a line-by-line exegesis, identifying the techniques Keats employs in its construction. “The speaker craves the ideal, everlasting love depicted on and symbolized by the urn,” he says. “But the way he expresses himself — well, it’s almost embarrassing, even hysterical, feverish.”

Keats uses compulsive-sounding repetition of words like happy and forever to “communicate something about the speaker that runs counter to his words. It reminds me of those times when you hear someone insist on how happy they are, but you know they’re just trying to will that fact into existence by speaking it.”

In the course of the poem, “the speaker begins to doubt his own cravings for the permanence of art. Is it really as perfect as he imagines?” Throughout, “he’s looked to the urn, to art, to assuage his despair about life,” a task to which it finally proves not quite equal. “In life, things change and fade, but they’re real. In art, things may be eternal, but they’re lifeless.” The famous final lines of “Ode on a Grecian Urn” arrive at the conclusion that “beauty is truth, truth beauty,” and how literal an interpretation to grant it remains a matter of debate. It may not really be all we know on Earth, nor even all we need to know, but the fact that we’re still arguing about it two centuries later speaks to the power of art — as well as art about art.

Related content:

Hear Benedict Cumberbatch Read John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” and Other Great Works by Shakespeare, Dante & Coleridge

Watch Art on Ancient Greek Vases Come to Life with 21st Century Animation

F. Scott Fitzgerald Reads Shakespeare’s Othello and Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” (1940)

Learn to Write Through a Video Game Inspired by the Romantic Poets: Shelley, Byron, Keats

How Ancient Greek Statues Really Looked: Research Reveals Their Bold, Bright Colors and Patterns

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Google & Coursera Create a Career Certificate That Prepares Students for Cybersecurity Jobs in 6 Months

This spring, Google has launched several online certificate programs designed to help students land an entry-level job, without necessarily having a college degree. The tech company’s latest program covers Cybersecurity, a field that stands poised to grow as companies become more digital, and cyberattacks inevitably continue.

Offered on Coursera’s educational platform, the new Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate features eight online courses, which collectively help students learn how to:

  • Understand the importance of cybersecurity practices and their impact for organizations.
  • Identify common risks, threats, and vulnerabilities, as well as techniques to mitigate them.
  • Protect networks, devices, people, and data from unauthorized access and cyberattacks using Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools.
  • Gain hands-on experience with Python, Linux, and SQL.

The Cybersecurity Professional Certificate joins a larger collection of certificate programs created by Google, with subjects covering User Experience Design, Business Intelligence, Data Analytics, Advanced Data Analytics, Project Management, IT Support and finally IT Automation.

Students can take individual courses in these professional certificate programs for free. (Above, you can watch video from the first course in the cybersecurity certificate program, entitled “Foundations of Cybersecurity.”) However, if you would like to receive a certificate, Coursera will charge $49 per month (after an initial 7-day free trial period). That means that the Cybersecurity Professional Certificate, designed to be completed in 6 months, will cost roughly $300 in total.

Once students complete the cybersecurity certificate, they can add the credential to their LinkedIn profile, resume, or CV. As a perk, students in the U.S. can also connect with 150+ employers (e.g., American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, T-Mobile, Walmart, and Google) who have pledged to consider certificate holders for open positions. According to Coursera, this certificate can prepare students to become an entry-level “cybersecurity analyst and SOC (security operations center) analyst.”

You can start a 7-day free trial of the Cybersecurity Professional Certificate here.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 1 ) |

Tina Turner (RIP) Delivers a Blistering Live Performance of “Proud Mary” on Italian TV (1971)

Note: The great Tina Turner passed away today at her home in Switzerland. She was 83. From our archive, we’re bringing back an electric 1971 performance, a reminder of what made her … simply the best. The post below first appeared on our site in April 2021.

John Fogerty once said that he conceived the opening bars of “Proud Mary” in imitation of Beethoven’s Fifth symphony. It’s an unusual association for a song about a steamboat, but it works as a classic blues rock hook. Most people would say, however, that the song didn’t truly come into its own until Tina Turner began covering it in 1969.

“Proud Mary” helped Turner come back after a suicide attempt the previous year. Her version, released as a single in January 1971, “planted the seeds of her liberation as both an artist and a woman,” Jason Heller writes at The Atlantic, bringing Ike and Tina major crossover success. Their version of the CCR song “rose to No.4 on Billboard’s pop chart, sold more than 1 million copies, and earned Turner the first of her 12 Grammy Awards.” See her, Ike, and the Ikettes perform it live on Italian TV, above.

It’s a sadly ironic part of her story that the success of “Proud Mary” also helped keep Turner in an abusive relationship with her musical partner and husband Ike for another five years until she finally left him in 1976. She spent the next several decades telling her story as she rose to international fame as a solo artist, in memoirs, interviews, and in the biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It.

The new HBO documentary, Tina, tells the story again but also includes Turner’s weary response to it. Asked in 1993 why she did not go see What’s Love Got to Do With It, Turner replied, “the story was actually written so that I would no longer have to discuss the issue. I don’t love that it’s always talked about… this constant reminder, it’s not so good. I’m not so happy about it.”

Like all musicians, Turner liked to talk about the music. “Proud Mary,” the second single from Ike and Tina’s Workin’ Together, came about when they heard an audition tape of the song, which they’d been covering on stage. “Ike said, ‘You know, I forgot all about that tune.’ And I said let’s do it, but let’s change it. So in the car Ike plays the guitar, we just sort of jam. And we just sort of broke into the black version of it.”

She may have given Ike credit for the idea, but the execution was all Tina (and the extraordinary Ikettes), and the song became a staple of her solo act for decades. Now, with Tina, it seems she may be leaving public life for good. “When do you stop being proud? How do you bow out slowly — just go away?” she says.

It’s a question she’s been asking with “Proud Mary” for half a century — onstage working day and night — a song, she said last year, that could be summed up in a single word, “Freedom.”

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.

If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks!

Related Content: 

How Aretha Franklin Turned Otis Redding’s “Respect” Into a Civil Rights and Feminist Anthem

Watch the Earliest Known Footage of the Jimi Hendrix Experience (February, 1967)

How Giorgio Moroder & Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” Created the “Blueprint for All Electronic Dance Music Today” (1977)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 1 ) |

Helen Keller Writes a Letter to Nazi Students Before They Burn Her Book: “History Has Taught You Nothing If You Think You Can Kill Ideas” (1933)

Helen Keller achieved notoriety not only as an individual success story, but also as a prolific essayist, activist, and fierce advocate for poor and marginalized people. She “was a lifelong radical,” writes Peter Dreier at Yes! magazine, whose “investigation into the causes of blindness” eventually led her to “embrace socialism, feminism, and pacifism.” Keller supported the NAACP and ACLU, and protested strongly against patronizing calls for her to “confine my activities to social service and the blind.” Her critics, she wrote, mischaracterized her ideas as “a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind.”

Twenty years later she found a different set of readers treating her ideas with contempt. This time, however, the critics were in Nazi Germany, and instead of simply disagreeing with her, they added her collection of essays, How I Became a Socialist, to a list of “degenerate” books to be burned on May 10, 1933. Such was the date chosen by Hitler for “a nationwide ‘Action Against the Un-German Spirit,’” writes Rafael Medoff, to take place at German Universities—“a series of public burnings of the banned books” that “differed from the Nazis’ perspective on political, social, or cultural matters, as well as all books by Jewish authors.”

Books burned included works by Einstein and Freud, H.G. Wells, Hemingway, and Jack London, Students hauled books out of the libraries as part of the spectacle. “The largest of the 34 book-burning rallies, held in Berlin,” Medoff notes, “was attended by an estimated 40,000 people.”

Not only were these demonstrations of anti-Semitism, but their contempt for ideas appealed broadly to the Nazi philosophy of “Blood and Soil,” a nationalist caricature of rural values over a supposedly “degenerate,” polyglot urbanism. “The soul of the German people can again express itself,” declared Joseph Goebbels ominously at the Berlin rally. “These flames not only illuminate the final end of an old era; they also light up the new.”

“Some American editorial responses” before and after the burnings, “made light of the event,” remarks the United States Holocaust Museum, calling it “silly” and “infantile.”  Others foresaw much worse to come. In one very explicit expression of the terrible possibilities, artist and political cartoonist Jacob Burck drew the image above, evoking the observation of 19th century German writer Heinrich Heine: “Where one burns books, one will soon burn people.” Newsweek described the events as “’a holocaust of books’… one of the first instances in which the term ‘holocaust’ (an ancient Greek word meaning a burnt offering to a deity) was used in connection with the Nazis.”

The day before the burnings, Keller also displayed a keen sense for the gravity of book burnings, as well as a “notable… early concern,” notes Rebecca Onion at Slate—outside the Jewish community, that is—for what she called the “barbarities to the Jews.” On May 9, 1933, Keller published a short but pointed open letter to the Nazi students in The New York Times and elsewhere, abjuring them to stop the proposed burnings. She wrote in a religious idiom, invoking the “judgment” of God and paraphrasing the Bible. (Not a traditional Christian, she belonged to a mystical sect called Swedenborgianism.) At the top of the post, you can see the typescript of her letter, with corrections and annotations by Polly Thompson, one of her primary aides. Read the full transcript below:

To the student body of Germany:

History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them.

You can burn my books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas in them have seeped through a million channels and will continue to quicken other minds. I gave all the royalties of my books for all time to the German soldiers blinded in the World War with no thought in my heart but love and compassion for the German people.

I acknowledge the grievous complications that have led to your intolerance; all the more do I deplore the injustice and unwisdom of passing on to unborn generations the stigma of your deeds.

Do not imagine that your barbarities to the Jews are unknown here. God sleepeth not, and He will visit His judgment upon you. Better were it for you to have a mill-stone hung around your neck and sink into the sea than to be hated and despised of all men.

Keller added the penultimate paragraph of the published text later. (See the handwritten addition at the bottom of the typed draft.) Her concern for the “grievous complications” of the German people was certainly genuine. The expression also seems like a targeted rhetorical move for a student audience, conceding the situation as “complex,” and appealing in more philosophical language to “justice” and “wisdom.” The Nazis ignored her protest, as they did the “massive street demonstrations” that took place on the 10th “in dozens of American cities,” the Holocaust Museum writes, “skillfully organized by the American Jewish Congress” and sparking “the largest demonstration in New York City history up to that date.”

Five years later, however, another planned book burning—this time in Austria before its annexation—was prevented by students at Williams College, Yale, and other universities in the U.S., where pro- and anti-Nazi partisans fought each other on several American campuses. U.S. students were able to push the Austrian National Library to lock the books away rather than burn them. Keller “is not known to have commented specifically” on these student protests, writes Medoff, “but one may assume she was deeply proud that at a time when too many Americans did not want to be bothered with Europe’s problems, these young men and women understood the message of her 1933 letter—that the principles under attack by the Nazis were something that should matter to all mankind.”

Note: This post originally appeared on our site in 2017.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.

If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks!

Related Content 

The Brooklyn Public Library Gives Every Teenager in the U.S. Free Access to Books Getting Censored by American Schools

The 850 Books a Texas Lawmaker Wants to Ban Because They Could Make Students Feel Uncomfortable

Mark Twain & Helen Keller’s Special Friendship: He Treated Me Not as a Freak, But as a Person Dealing with Great Difficulties

America’s First Banned Book: Discover the 1637 Book That Mocked the Puritans

  • Great Lectures

  • About Us

    Open Culture scours the web for the best educational media. We find the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons & educational videos you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between.

    Advertise With Us

  • Subscribe to our Newsletter


  • Archives

  • Search

  • Quantcast
    Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.