“Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high. Take a look, it’s in a book, a Reading Rainbow…”
Back in 1983, long before LeVar Burton cemented his status as the world’s coolest blind guy on the USS Enterprise-D, he encouraged kids to read in a very fun and smart way with the PBS classic “Reading Rainbow.” He continued hosting while fulfilling his “Star Trek” duties until the “Reading Rainbow” came to an end in 2006.
For those who may not remember, the show was done in a very clever way and each episode would usually have a theme to correspond to the featured book of the day, which was read like a motion comic. Examples included going to New York’s famed Chinatown and teaching kids fun things about the culture – such as the origin of the fortune cookie – and then including a featured story, which in this case was Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by Demi (my favorite episode).
“Reading Rainbow” also had a book collection LONG before “Oprah’s Book Club” in which you could find any of the books featured on the episodes, including the ones that were reviewed by kids on the show, making a whole generation realize that giving oral book reports weren’t so bad if we approached them the way the RR kids did.
In 2012, Burton launched the RR app for the iPad and it’s still going strong, but Burton wants to get the band back together and inspire a whole new generation of youngsters to embrace the glory of reading. He’s turned to Kickstarter with a campaign called “Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere.”
Burton and his team are looking to raise $1 million dollars in order to restart the show via internet, giving more accessibility to those at homes without television and around the globe and create an “educator-specific” version for teachers (remember those?) as well as free access to the service for classrooms that need it most.
Burton has always been a champion of children’s literacy, so never being one to shy away from anything fun, Kickstarter campaign perks include tickets to a “Reading Rainbow LIVE!” reading tour, private dinners with Burton, and – get this – the chance to wear Geordi La Forge’s iconic visor from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
So if you decide to donate to this VERY worthy campaign (which ends July 2nd), I’ll leave you with some traveling music as you peruse the campaign! It just launched this morning, and as of this writing it’s already amassed over $800,000, so it’s all but assured that the project will meet its goal.
So, what do you think? Is “Reading Rainbow” something you’d be happy to see brought back to life?
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