We Can Bring 'Reading Rainbow' Back!

by Kaitlin Reilly

LeVar Burton is once again encouraging children to read. The star and executive producer of former PBS show Reading Rainbow has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Reading Rainbow's interactive app and library of stories to kids and classrooms in need.

Reading Rainbow was hosted by Burton and featured segments such as celebrities narrating children's stories, book reviews by kids, and interviews with people from around the world. The show — which ran from 1983 to 2006 on PBS — encouraged children to foster a love of reading. In 2012, six years after the show ceased production, Burton launched the Reading Rainbow app, which features interactive books and "video field trips" hosted by Burton. Currently you can download the Reading Rainbow app for your iPad and Kindle Fire.

Burton's latest goal is to expand the app to the web, so that children without tablets will be able to access the resource. Burton is using Kickstarter to raise $1,000,000 in order to put Reading Rainbow in the hands of every child:

Our goal is to cultivate a love of reading in all children, not just those that have tablets. To reach kids everywhere, we need to be everywhere: we need to be on the web. Second, a resounding number of teachers have told me that they want Reading Rainbow in their classrooms, where they know it can make a difference. We will provide it, along with the tools that teachers need, including teacher guides, leveling, and dashboards. And in disadvantaged classrooms, we'll provide it for free.

As a kid growing up on Reading Rainbow, I know firsthand how important it is. Watching Reading Rainbow wasn't like watching any ordinary television show — it showcased the magic of stories in a way that made reading all the more fun. Watching Reading Rainbow was a lot like having a story read to you by a really cool (sometimes famous) teacher, and I hope, like Burton, that kids of the next generation have that same opportunity.

According to Burton, 1 in 4 children will grow up illiterate, making them 400 percent more likely to drop out of high school. Children of all socioeconomic backgrounds should have the opportunity to read unlimitedly, and bringing the Reading Rainbow app to classrooms will allow them to do that.

Check out the Kickstarter video below.

Click here to go to the Kickstarter campaign.

Images: Kickstarter