“Take a look; it’s in a book-a Reading Rainbow!” Kids from 1986-2006 knew that iconic song by heart. For those that might be unaware, those lyrics come from one of the most beloved children shows of all time, Reading Rainbow.
When I was a wee little lad, I was able to go on amazing adventures in my home. How did I do this? Well, with the power of reading of course! With my imagination, and a little narration provided by LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation), I was able to learn valuable moral lessons, and travel to distant lands that only existed in books.
I remember sitting in my living room after school watching the latest episode of Reading Rainbow on PBS. I always had so much fun watching Burton not only narrate the book on-screen, but also be genuinely funny. I even remember going to my local library in Buffalo, New York and constantly visiting the “Reading Rainbow Room,” where the librarians had recorded old episodes of the program on VHS. They even had the books available from those original episodes for read along. Good times.
Reading Rainbow played a huge role in my childhood, and is probably one of the reason why I continue to read so much today. It pained me to see Reading Rainbow go off the air in 2006, but a Kickstarter campaign created by Burton in May left me with some hope that the show might be resurrected in a new form.
With Reading Rainbow’s cancellation in 2006, Burton, who hosted the show for two decades, bought the name and rights to the series. In 2012, he launched a free Reading Rainbow tablet app.
Burton, while please with the creation of the app, was unsatisfied that it could only reach a limited audience. By starting the Kickstarter campaign, Burton hoped to have the app be available online, and available to schoolchildren and teachers free of charge. The app will also be available on numerous Apple devices. Even games will get the chance “to go anywhere,” since the app will be available on Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
Well, after creating a massive amount of nostalgia, and a massive amount of money, Burton closed his Kickstarter campaign on June 2 after reaching $5,408,916 (not counting an additional million donated by Seth MacFarlane), more than five times its original goal. The Kickstarter campaign also broke a new record on the crow funding site by being the most backed campaign in the site’s five years of existence.
After only one day on Kickstarter, Burton’s campaign achieved its goal of $1 million in less than 24 hours. Originally conceived in May, the campaign started to receive ample media attention and started to receive assistance from several celebrities, including Donald Glover, Seth MacFarlane, Patrick Stewart and William Shatner. The cast of Veronica Mars, along with some of Burton’s Star Trek: TNG co-stars have been donating as well. MacFarlane’s contribution was a pledge to match every dollar of the last million needed to reach the fundraiser’s stretch goal. The other celebrities committed to join Burton at many of the live events that were rewards for Kickstarter contributors. All of these additional perks greatly contributed to the smashing success of the Reading Rainbow team’s efforts.
This is a truly amazing thing that Burton is doing for children across the United States. Not only is the man actively trying to get children to read, but he’s working with multiple schools across the country to do it.
Even if you weren’t able to donate, just take the time to check out Reading Rainbow. It’s an amazing and entertaining educational show, and it is the perfect program to encourage your kids to read.
What do you think reader? Excited the Reading Rainbow is alive in a new form? Let us know in the comments below.