Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton has taken to Kickstarter to promote his campaign to bring Reading Rainbow back for today's kids. Those parents who own a Kindle or an iPad may already be aware that Reading Rainbow has been available in app form, but as Burton's Kickstarter message notes, not all families have access to tablets. And there are teachers who want the program available in their classrooms. Reading Rainbow's new vision is to bring the program into every home and every classroom -- or as many as possible -- for free.
Here's the video that was posted on the official Kickstarter page.
The Kickstarter campaign has already surpassed half its goal, with more than $600,000 pledged since the campaign started earlier today, donated from over 14,000 backers and counting. At the rate it's going, it's looking like the campaign will hit the mark well before July. Check out the Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter progress below:
Incentives for backers range from things like t-shirts, bumper stickers and other Reading Rainbow prizes, to some pretty exciting options for bigger pledges, particularly for fans of LeVar Burton from his Star Trek days. Backers who pledge $10,000 for the "Ultimate Star Trek Geordi's Visor" Package will get a private dinner with Burton, and a chance to wear the one-and-only original visor worn by Burton in Star Trek: The Next Generation:
There's also a separate $10,000 pledge option that offers a school assembly with LeVar Burton.
In addition to whatever incentive backers receive for their contribution to fund this project, the best benefit is that, ideally, Reading Rainbow will be able to expand its accessibility and reach out to a new generation of kids. Speaking as a book lover since childhood, I think back to that point in my childhood when I could finally read well enough to dive into any book at my disposal. The ability to read offers us education and a better understanding of our world. It also offers a pass into other realities, where the imagination is free to wander without limit. That's a priceless gift that every child should have access to. If Reading Rainbow can give them that by inspiring kids to want to learn to read, and helping teachers with their efforts, it's a worthy cause.
Reading Rainbow debuted as a TV series that aired on PBS back in 1983. Presented by LeVar Burton, the program was set up to encourage kids to read. It's ironic, in a way, that a TV series would be pushing kids toward books, but in the '80s, TV was the the perfect medium to get that message across, because that's where kids were looking. In this day and age, kids fortunate enough to live in households with iPads, Kindle tablets, iPhones and other devices have their attention on the even-smaller screens, so Reading Rainbow's transition to online and app platforms a couple of years back was just as fitting as the original TV launch, in its efforts to capture kids' attention.
But as the Kickstarter page notes, not every kid has a tablet, and one in four kids in the U.S. will grow up illiterate. Ideally, the updated and preferably more accessible Reading Rainbow program, which aims to get itself on the web and in classrooms, will be just as effective in making kids enthusiastic about reading as it was to those of us who grew up watching the program on TV when we were kids.