The beloved literary children’s show Reading Rainbow may be getting an unexpected revival through a Kickstarter campaign begun by actor, literary activist, and former Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton. That campaign reached its $1 million goal within twenty-four hours and currently has $1.85 million pledged with thirty-four days left of fundraising to go.
The fundraiser has gotten a huge amount of media coverage as Burton seeks to bring a digital version of Reading Rainbow to children, particularly those learning in classrooms in need. Reading Rainbow originally aired on PBS from 1983 to 2006, earning numerous awards for growing literacy by focusing on reading as an adventure. According to a report from CBS, Burton bought the rights to Reading Rainbow in 2012 and launched a mobile app for the series.
Burton acknowledges on the Kickstarter page that television is no longer the way for him to reach his target audience of young potential readers. “Starting in 1983, Reading Rainbow successfully used television to turn generations of kids into lifelong readers… with great results. Of course, when Reading Rainbow began in 1983, we were using television to bring books to kids, meeting them where they wanted to be. In 2014, TV is not that place anymore. Now, we’re trying to reach a new generation of digital natives,” Burton wrote.
Now Burton wants to bring the Reading Rainbow app to children in underprivileged schools that might not have access to such technology. The first goal is to get a Web-based version of the Reading Rainbow app up and running so that families and classrooms that don’t have tablets can access the books and video field trips offered on the mobile app, which is so good Gizmodo said it “might stop the iPad from ruining the brains of all children.” The second major goal of the fund is not only to get online, but to be able to offer an online version of the content for free to needy classrooms.