Thursday, May 29, 2014

What's Your Favorite Reading Rainbow Memory?

After a 23-year run and reincarnation as an iPad app, Reading Rainbow is now poised to come to the web. A tremendously successful Kickstarter campaign launched yesterday seeks to expand the existing pool of interactive books and video field trips in its digital collection and make a specialized classroom version available for free to cash-strapped schools.

If you are about 40 or younger, chances are good that you've encountered Reading Rainbow as a child. Even if you never watched the program during your formative years, the show is a cultural touchstone that you've likely at least heard of, having earned over 200 broadcast awards including a Peabody and 26 Emmys.

Featuring an introductory video in the documentary style of "The Office"watch through the end for a humorous cameo by Brent Spinerthe Kickstarter project surpassed its $1 million funding goal in eleven hours, eliciting an emotional response from LeVar Burton.

In a world where "at least 250 million of the 650 million school age children globally aren't learning basic skills in reading" and even those who can read risk becoming aliteratesthose who have "the ability to read but [lack] the desire and motivation"programs like Reading Rainbow can elevate the status of reading and inspire youngsters to explore their local libraries.

For many, LeVar Burton's Kickstarter project is [...] an invitation to nostalgia
Thanks in no small part to shows like Reading Rainbow and supportive parents and teachers, reading was an integral part of my own childhood. I distinctly remember classroom trips to the library, capped off by an episode of Reading Rainbow displayed on a giant CRT monitor on a huge metal cart. The episode that stuck with me the most vividly was about teamwork and featured a dance video with a catchy earworm of a song ("make your dream workteamwork!"). The stories I read as a child fueled my imagination, but I also developed a good deal of factual knowledge outside the classroom from the nonfiction books that fed my curiosity.

For many, LeVar Burton's Kickstarter project is not just a great cause and a way to support literacy education but also a pleasant reminder of their own youth and an invitation to nostalgia.

What are your favorite Reading Rainbow memories?

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Augmented Me is a blog about cyberculture written by a Google Glass Explorer.

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