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LeVar Burton: Politics Ended Reading Rainbow Run

In a recent interview with the GalleyCat Blog, Reading Rainbow creator LeVar Burton, discussed the reason for the cancellation of the beloved children’s program. The answer is simple, yet sad: politics are to blame. “That’s the story that a lot of folks don’t get. No Child Left Behind is doing exactly that, and so the mandate is to teach kids how to read, the rudiments of reading, and there was no money in the budget to foster a love of reading,” he explained. “Look, we have spent so much money on the machinery of war in the last 10, 12 years, we are having to make really ridiculous choices. And we’re sacrificing our kids, literally sacrificing our kids.”

In order to continue his vision for Reading Rainbow, Burton, along with business partner Mark Wolfe, secured the rights to the brand and re-launched it as an iPad app, produced by their company RRKidz. The free Reading Rainbow app features clips from the popular TV show, over 150 books, 16 video field trips, as well as other interactive activities.

Moving to a digital platform was a logical step for Burton. “Television was the medium and the technology of its time in the 80s and 90s, but you know better than I do that this is the digital-native generation,” he told Galleycat writer Donya Blaze. “And they consume most of their screen time on mobile devices. That’s where we wanna be. If you want to be where they are, you’ve gotta be on a mobile device.”

Burton also believes that the role of printed books will continue to diminish in our reading lives. ”We’re looking at a future, whenever it comes, that we’re gonna consume most of the reading that we do on some kind of electronic device or another. We will still have printed books; they’ll never go away. I think our emotional attachment to them is too strong. What it will do, I believe though, is make the books that we own more valuable to us, more precious.”

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