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LeVar Burton launches Kickstarter campaign for reincarnating ‘Reading Rainbow’

The idea of Reading Rainbow returning to air is enough to reduce some people to full-on Troy from Community tears.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Posted on May 28, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 5:55 am CDT

Reading Rainbow was on air for a good 21 seasons and became an iconic fixture for generations of children. The idea of it returning once again is enough to reduce some people to full-on Troy from Community tears, but don’t worry—LeVar Burton gets it.

Using Kickstarter crowdfunding, Burton plans to raise $1 million to launch a new, Internet-friendly version of the classic educational show. You can watch his explanation in this video, featuring a realistically awe-struck cast of adults who grew up with the original TV series.

Reading Rainbow holds a warm place in many people’s hearts, both as an object of nostalgia (which this campaign cheerfully capitalizes upon) and as an example of popular media genuinely trying to do good work.

The TV show spent over two decades promoting literacy among children, and two years ago LeVar Burton launched a Reading Rainbow app that brought the spirit of the series from television over to tablet media. The app includes video “field trips” presented by Burton and a subscription-based library. At the moment, children are reading an average of 139,000 of those library books each week.

This crowdfunding campaign aims to bring the new Reading Rainbow media to a wider audience online, and to provide more classroom materials for underfunded schools and teachers.

“A resounding number of teachers have told me that they want Reading Rainbow in their classrooms,” reads the Kickstarter page. “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.”

The Kickstarter rewards include things like tickets to live Reading Rainbow events, a group picnic lunch with LeVar Burton, and Reading Rainbow subscriptions for schools and classrooms. But the thing that will get LeVar Burton’s own fans buzzing is the top reward at $10,000: a private dinner with Levar Burton, with the opportunity to try on the visor he wore when playing Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

We’d like to say that this is the coolest Kickstarter we’ve heard about in ages, but we did find out about the solar powered roads just a few days ago. Still, the idea of Reading Rainbow for the Internet generation is pretty darn awesome, and the Kickstarter campaign seems likely to achieve its lofty fundraising goal: Donations are already piling on from 1,800-plus backers, to the tune of $89,000 and counting, and there are still 35 days to go.

Photo via Kickstarter

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*First Published: May 28, 2014, 12:47 pm CDT