By Scott Michael Slone
Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high…
Many of our readers might be familiar with Reading Rainbow, an educational children’s show that aired on PBS during the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s. It was a show dedicated to promoting reading in a child’s life and promoting critical thinking about what they were reading, much like the show Bill Nye The Science Guy promoted scientific thought and analysis. The show ran from 1983 until 2006, making it the third longest running children’s show of all time, behind Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street. It has had a lasting effect on the childhood of many people, myself included.
I have honestly not watched Reading Rainbow in a long time, for obvious reasons. It was an afterschool show that I’d see just as the bus dropped me off at home, one that showed me the importance of reading, and thinking about what you are reading. Getting a child to read at all is an important endeavor, but if a child doesn’t learn to try understanding the deeper meaning of what they’re reading back then, they might not be able to understand it as an adult now. Reading Rainbow helped shape that for many people’s childhoods, and just a few days ago they decided to bring it all back again.
LeVar Burton, the host of Reading Rainbow and the founder of the company RRKIDZ, has started a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter to return Reading Rainbow once again to children’s lives. This is not a return of the old, however. It is clear that the techniques of the 80’s would not work for a modern world. LeVar knows what to do though, and is putting the effort into development of digital versions of episodes of the original show, a Reading Rainbow app found on iOS and Kindle, and a database of books and video field trips allowing kids everywhere to access a virtually unlimited selection of literature. The technology will be brought to classrooms as well, with promise to deliver it for free to schools that need it most.
The need for this project is paramount. Currently, one out of every four children in America will grow up illiterate, thus making them 400% more likely to drop out of high school. The fans of the original show heard the call, and showed just how much of an impact Reading Rainbow made on their lives. As of this writing, the total number of backers was 43,989, with a pledge value of $1,970,560. The pledge increased another thousand dollars as I typed this very sentence. With an initial goal of $1 million dollars having been met in only 11 hours, it is one of the fastest Kickstarters to reach $1 million, and there seems to be no sign of stopping. With 33 days left in the Kickstarter, it is unsure just how far the campaign will go, but one thing is clear, it has soared like a butterfly, and has gone twice has high as LeVar Burton expected it to.
For those who remember the theme song of this lovely show, they will know exactly what I’m talking about.
To fund this Kickstarter and show your appreciation for reading and science, go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/readingrainbow/bring-reading-rainbow-back-for-every-child-everywh
P.S. Just after uploading the pledge passed $2 Million!
Scott Michael Slone is C2ST’s resident intern. He is recently a graduate of Illinois institute of Technology, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering, with the honor of Cum Laude. He enjoys the work C2ST is doing to help promote science and technology in the Chicagoland region, and is glad to help them as well. His scientific interests include nanotechnology and molecular machines. He hopes you’ll enjoy his technical tidbits on these and other subjects.