LeVar Burton hopes to resurrect ‘Reading Rainbow’ in app form

Feb 7, 2012
Education

The classic PBS show Reading Rainbow saw its last season in 2009, but the show isn’t gone forever – it may be back in several forms, with one being an app designed to bring books to children. Championing the continued survival of Reading Rainbow is the show’s former host and executive producer, LeVar Burton. In […]

The classic PBS show Reading Rainbow saw its last season in 2009, but the show isn’t gone forever – it may be back in several forms, with one being an app designed to bring books to children.

Championing the continued survival of Reading Rainbow is the show’s former host and executive producer, LeVar Burton. In an interview with Mashable, Burton detailed his continuing fight to keep Reading Rainbow alive since it was canceled in 2009. The show was the third-longest running PBS show in existence, having persisted for 26 years, and was outpaced only by Sesame Street in the top slot and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood at No. 2.

Burton already launched a site called RRKidz.com, which allows users to purchase Reading Rainbow DVDs. And he also said he’s working on a mobile app that will be the first product released to keep the show going.

“The center-point of the App is books,” Burton told Mashable. “Wonderful, lightly enhanced digital books for children. However we’re also very interested in delivering an enriching experience to kids, much like classic Reading Rainbow did on TV.”

Children’s books have been realized in new in interesting ways on mobile devices, especially the iPad, so it’s not hard to see the potential for outreach with the Reading Rainbow brand to lots of kids. From the sounds of things, the RRKidz app could provide lots of digitized versions of books and could help encourage reading and literacy, just as the show did through its history.

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And a mobile app, particularly on the iPad, seems like a great fit for the Reading Rainbow aesthetic. Throughout the life of the show, books were often depicted as coming to life; with many children’s book apps, that’s precisely the presentation children are given. If there’s a medium that can help get kids reading, it seems like mobile apps are it.

It seems Burton and those behind the upcoming Reading Rainbow app have a similar idea. As Mashable reports, the RRKidz website says the app will deliver hundreds of books that will include a “Reading Rainbow-like” experience. Judging by the show, that’ll likely include interactivity, additional information and other things to get kids excited about reading books.

We’ll have to wait and see how things eventually shake out for Reading Rainbow and its potential app. Hopefully, it won’t be too long a wait. But Burton says the app is just the first phase in a larger game plan, and we’ll have to see what’s in store for Reading Rainbow in the future.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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