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‘Reading Rainbow’ Kickstarter smashes through fundraising goals

Levar Burton was right all along: Weeee can be anythiiiiiiiiiiiing.


Aja Romano


Posted on May 29, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 5:44 am CDT

Levar Burton’s Kickstarter to resurrect our childhoods and bring Reading Rainbow back to the kids of America has joined the elite list of fastest campaigns to ever reach $1 million.

The project, which launched yesterday, proposes to expand the successful Reading Rainbow app into a free webseries with special delivery to classrooms. It funded its million-dollar goal in just over 11 hours.

You all are INCREDIBLE! Together we are 22K strong & hit our 1st goal in less than 12 hrs – it’s just the beginning!

— Reading Rainbow (@readingrainbow) May 28, 2014

The campaign is now the fourth-fastest Kickstarter to reach $1 million. The groundbreaking Veronica Mars Kickstarter remains the fastest, hitting the mark in just over 5 hours and wrapping with a total of over $5 million. Roleplaying game Torment reached $1 million in 7 hours last year; gaming console OUYA did it in 8 hours in 2012. The highest-funded Kickstarter in history, the Pebble watch, needed 27 hours to gain its first million. 

Reading Rainbow didn’t need time to build and spread via word-of-mouth. It already has a huge fanbase and a multi-generational nostalgia factor thanks to its 26-year-run (1983 – 2009) on PBS—along with one of the catchiest theme songs known to man. Yesterday’s campaign brought out moments of nostalgia, tears of joy, and moving personal tributes:

“Just take a look, it’s in a book”🎶 #WhoRemembers #ReadingRainbow #tbt 👀📖🌈

— Anna of Arendelle (@AnnaClayton15) May 29, 2014

I wouldn’t be an author without @levarburton, so the first $600 of my advance goes to Reading Rainbow. Thank u sir.

— Sara Benincasa (@SaraJBenincasa) May 28, 2014

So happy to back Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere on @Kickstarter. I adopted a classroom!

— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) May 28, 2014

The campaign’s swift success hasn’t come without controversy, however; the Washington Post critiqued the reason Reading Rainbow was cancelled in 2009 to begin with, and questioned whether the show was utilizing best practices to teach millennial kids how to read. The National Journal opined about the way public education was falling into the hands of crowdfunding: “[I]t’s sad that it takes people like LeVar Burton to compensate for our country’s literary failings.”

Despite these doubts, the campaign currently stands at over $1.7 million, putting Reading Rainbow on track to prove the age-old adage: Butterfly in the sky— we can go twice as high.

Screengrab via Kickstarter

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*First Published: May 29, 2014, 11:25 am CDT