Reading Rainbow

Sheenah Archive, Books, My Life 3 Comments

LeVar Burton

Reading Rainbow Guy!

When some people think of LeVar Burton, the first things to cross their minds might be: Star Trek, Roots, maybe even Captain Planet. I think: Reading Rainbow Guy. Remember the days when PBS actually had cool, interesting programming for children that adults could admit to enjoying without being labeled as lame? You know, stuff like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Kratts’ Creatures, and Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego? The programs were smart and never dummied down. Nowadays it’s hard to find something that’s not bursting in color and talking really loud and slow for the kids to understand whatever it is that they might be teaching them (seriously Yo Gabba Gabba, I find you as disturbing as The Wiggles). But I digress…

There have always been shows to teach kids about phonics and letters and numbers and simple words. Sesame Street is like the epitome of these types of shows. But there was never a show about books until LeVar Burton came along and had this brilliant idea to fix all that. Every episode had a “lesson”. Sometimes it would be about sports, sharing, family values, or even imaginary friends. Whatever the lesson, there would always be a featured book he’d read that was somehow related to it. And the even cooler feature was when kids would give out their book recommendations. It was like a kid’s book club or something. “Hey, if you liked what LeVar just read, you’ll definitely like these books, too!” And I would watch these and actually write some of those recommendations down so I could hunt them down at the library. Living in a household where books were, for the most part, scarce and having friends that really didn’t read, Reading Rainbow was the only show that catered to my interests. I didn’t have friends that were like, “Hey! Check out this book! It’s great!” They were busy listening to Hanson or Spice Girls. I was the one sitting in the corner, devouring The Secret Garden and Little House in the Big Woods while writing random short stories flash fiction.

Having kids engaged to reading is just as important as having them interested in science. People read every day whether they realize it or not: advertising, magazines, emails, heck, you’re reading this right now. Will a child use science for the rest of their life? Maybe. But they’ll definitely use basic math and reading skills every day. So why not give them a book to keep their reading skills sharp? Then they’ll learn what happens if you give a mouse a cookie.


Comments 3

  1. Butterfly in the sky, I can fly twice as high…. *ahem* What an awesome show. It shows how much I loved it that all these years later I still know the words to the theme song. I can’t imagine my life without reading. Good for you for pursuing a love of books even when it wasn’t easy. I was lucky that both my parents were (and still are) big readers.

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  2. Okay, I’m waaay older than you, but I loved Reading Rainbow and always watched it with my kids. Do you remember the episode when they showed the crazy hairstyles like the statue of liberty hair.
    I also watched Carmen San Diego,Bill Nye and Kratt’s Creatures with them. I learned A Lot. Yep, not too impressed with PBS anymore.

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