A History of Sesame Street Children grow up watching Sesame Street in more than 170 countries around the world. Half a century ago, Sesame Street was meant to “solve two problems at once: the scarcity of preschools and the abundance of televisions,” Harvard historian Jill Lepore writes in this review of the show and some of the literature it has recently spawned.

It was a revolutionary idea: that you might be able to educate preschoolers through television. Even more revolutionary: it worked – millions of children have learned basic arithmetic and spelling with the help of Kermit the Frog, Oscar Grouch and Cookie Monster – and they’ve loved every part of it. But Lepore also describes how Sesame Street has not been immune to history – not to changing educational ideals, nor to the pressures of commerce. That analysis means that this piece reads as an elegy as well as a piece of criticism – and you’ll probably learn a thing or two in the process.

Lynn, Culture and Clichés correspondent
The New Yorker: ‘How we got to Sesame Street’ (reading time: 14 minutes).
Finding love for when SHTF "Proper planning prevents poor performance," my dear friend Desiree would say, to which I would always roll my eyes. I’m not much of a prepper. I just want enough light for the step that I’m on, tomorrow will take care of itself. So it was with great fascination I read this Baffler Magazine story that goes beyond the stereotypical prepper tropes: mostly men; given to conspiracy theories; subsisting on water and beef jerky; alone and celebrating solitude and self-reliance.

Here, writer Katherine Rowland explains that many are drawn to survivalism because it offers refuge to men who feel "stripped of agency, entitlement, and security in our rapidly changing society". She describes a world full of abbreviations (SHTF I’m sure you can guess) and inhabited by people who rehearse for catastrophe, but who are equally pragmatic about the fact that even the best prepper can’t survive alone. “There’s no such thing as a solitary prepper,” one of Rowland’s interviewees says. "In fact, he elaborates, community and, more specifically, love are “the best prep[s] you can have.” Who woulda thunk it.

Eliza, managing editor
The Baffler: ‘The prepper’s guide to love’ (reading time: 18 minutes)
A greedy man always gets got I’ve been losing myself in all kinds of women-written literature these days, spinning me into different iterations of this new reality that we’re living. In Circe, Madeline Miller brings us the story of a Greek goddess banished into self-isolation; in Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, it’s post apocalypse and a Shakespeare troupe tours the lakes and county lines of a country changed forever.

My latest space-and-time orienting read, though, is one gifted by another US-based writer, Roxane Gay. You may be sceptical to hear the words "Dropbox care package", but Gay has shared some of her essays, short stories, recipes, and podcast episodes. I’ve dipped into it for a glimpse at the first issue of her deliciously moody comic series, The Banks: it’s about three generations of black women in Chicago who double up as master thieves, or who "get theirs", as Gay puts it.

Nabeelah, conversation editor
Care Package Dropbox (reading time: as long as you want!)
How one person’s lawsuit helped bring back the internet in Sudan, and fight against the government When protests in Sudan started mounting in 2019 to demand democratic elections after Omar al-Bashir, the authoritarian who’d ruled Sudan for 30 years, had been forced to step down, the military government carried out a massacre on 3 June. A few hours later, they shut down the Internet.

The effect was huge for many people: street sellers who rely on electronic payments, students who go online to find their books, and regular citizens who wanted to be in touch with their loved ones. And of course for protesters. Abdelazim Hassan, a corporate lawyer, decided to sue his telephone company: he argued that Zain, the phone provider, had unlawfully reneged on the terms of its contract with him by not providing internet services.

In this story, journalist Jina Moore recounts how Hassan got the internet back and inspired others to sue, but also talks to engineers at phone companies who helped some get back online. It is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at who owns the internet in the times of change.

Irene, First 1,000 Days correspondent
Rest of World: ‘Anatomy of an internet shutdown’ (reading time: 15 minutes)
How to customise your wardrobe Last winter, I took a few sewing lessons. In a few hours, I learned how to make a totebag and wrapskirt. More importantly, I learned how great it feels to put your creativity into something and be busy with your hands, especially if you work seated at a desk and computer.

When I saw this piece from the New York Times passing by, my hands started to itch to do something again. It lists DIY wardrobe customisation ideas, similar to the sewing patterns that glossy magazines used to provide. Like how to tie-dye and embroider your socks or turn an old fleece blanket into a coverall. More tips from designers will be added to the series. I know how to spend my weekend.

Emy, Clothing correspondent
The New York Times: Designer DIY Series (reading time: as long as you want!)