Like a butterfly in the sky, the children’s program Reading Rainbow will soar once again in the near future. Early Wednesday, actor LeVar Burton, who hosted the PBS television show from 1983 to 2006, launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of bringing the educational show back. However, it would not be on television screens this time around. For this run, it would take place on the internet as a web series. Hoping to reach $1 million for proper funding of the reboot, fans and parents flocked to the pledge site in hordes and helped Burton. Within hours, he had received the full funding needed to bring Reading Rainbow back to life.
In the introductory video, Burton, who is also known for his roles in the mini-series Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation, hoped to use the project funding site to revive the educational series. With the show taking on new life, it would once again help out children with literary skills that they may not get elsewhere. He thanked his mother for sharing the power of reading with him at an early age, which in part, helped to stretch his imagination to new heights.
“I have dedicated myself to fostering a love of reading in children,” he said, “just as my mother did for me.”
Burton also shared some very sad stats about education in America; one out of every four children will grow up illiterate. He further stated that he believes that we have a deep responsibility to allow all children to prosper through the power of reading and as a nation, we are failing them greatly.
“We have a responsibility to prepare our children,” he added.
The initial run of Reading Rainbow lasted more than two decades and won 26 Emmys and a Peabody Award. In every episode, Burton would explore the joys of reading. A special guest star, sometimes the writer of a book, would read along to that episode’s selection, while the illustrations came to life, making for an experience that was both educational and fun. Burton realizes that the landscape of media on the small screen is a much different place than what it was at the height of the show’s popularity. In hopes of relating to a young audience of today, the push of placing Reading Rainbow on the internet seems like a great start.
“In 2014, TV is not that place anymore,” Burton realizes. “We’re trying to reach a new generation of digital natives.”
As of this writing, the funds received so far stands at an impressive $1,247,550. Backers have been promised a mix of prizes for helping, ranging from tweets via the show’s official Twitter page to having a private dinner with the host himself. Burton also plans to share interactive content with schools all around America. Teachers’ guides, dashboards and other forms of content are currently being planned to be shipped to over 1,500 classrooms and that is just for starters.
Although the initial run ceased production eight years ago, Burton never turned his back on the show that helped out so many young children. In 2012, he helped to create an app based on the television series. Just like the show it is based on, it is filled with thousands of stories and vignettes of educational field trips. With this dream fulfilled, Reading Rainbow soars once again and lands in the hands of young children all around America and the world. If you would like to donate, feel free to visit the Kickstarter link below.
By Jonathan Brown