When it comes to the subject of children’s shows many will remember the television series which they grew up watching such as Reading Rainbow. They may remember how they learned about the importance of reading and the journeys that they were taken on by LeVar Burton. One thing that many individuals will also recall is the day the show ended. In recent reports it is stated that Reading Rainbow may come back from the dead with the help of the people. “Together all of us can bring forth the delight of reading and alter the lives of thousands, if not millions, of children.” said Burton, host of the popular American children’s show Reading Rainbow.
Reading Rainbow first appeared in 1983 with its signature theme song that many caught themselves singing along with. It was, as the majority of children’s shows on the PBS network are, a program that made learning fun. This show was centered on the wonders of reading. LeVar Burton hosted the show for many years, taking kids through the various lands and realms that were held in the pages of books. If Burton does not ring any bells coming from this popular show, some may recognize him from the film Roots, where he portrayed Kunta Kinte or as the visor-wearing Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Each show featured a different book and each book took Burton and kids on a different adventure but held the same elements of learning. The ending of each episode had children giving reviews on books they read or enjoyed followed by Burton’s famous trademark saying.
After its 26-year run, Reading Rainbow could be coming back from the dead. Kickstarter and Burton began a fundraiser in order to bring the show back. The goal is to reach $5 million, to host the show on all major platforms and devices, as well as to get free access to more than 7,500 classrooms. So far the campaign has reached over $1 million. Because of this, Reading Rainbow can be accessed anywhere on the internet. It is also now freely accessible to children in 1,500 classrooms.
According to the former Star Trek actor every child has the right and the need to be literate. He states that the older generation has the obligation to prepare their children. He continues to say that as far as statistics go, the American populace is failing in that obligation and responsibility. Statistically, one out of four children in America will grow up being illiterate. Studies have even shown that kids who cannot read at their grade level by the time they reach the fourth grade are about 400 percent more likely to flunk from high school. This is just one reason why Burton believes reading is important and is fighting to bring Reading Rainbow back from the dead.
As stated by a video on NBC News, Burton’s first goal was to reach $1 million in a 35 day time span and the pledges got there within 11 hours. Burton is seen near tears on the video giving thanks and saying how overwhelmed he was. There will be one difference to the show that so many grew up with. Kids today learn a lot through social interlacement as well as through the internet. This is how Reading Rainbow will come back to make it easier for children to access it. Reading Rainbow will also come back from the dead as an application that one can download on their phone or tablet device. Given the success of the fundraiser so far, the legacy of Reading Rainbow will most likely continue for many more generations to come. With the advances of technology, the possibilities to keep it alive seem to be endless.
By Isis E. Stevens