CBS Storybreak

CBS Storybreak

Children’s literacy got some televised attention in the 80s, thanks to the popular PBS series, Reading Rainbow. Not to be outdone, CBS rolled out their own book-based Saturday morning series. CBS Storybreak offered animated versions of popular literature hosted by a familiar face to every young television fan of the era, Captain Kangaroo.

Debuting in 1985, CBS Storybreak was hosted by Bob Keeshan, a man whose career in children’s television started way back in 1948, when he portrayed the first-ever Clarabell the Clown on the pioneering kid’s show, Howdy Doody. After the end of his iconic three-decade run as Captain Kangaroo, Keeshan greeted young viewers on CBS Storybreak.

Produced by Australia’s Southern Star Entertainment, in conjunction with Saturday morning mainstays, Hanna-Barbera, CBS Storybreak chose its featured stories based on recommendations from the Library of Congress. Popular tales of the era like How to Eat Fried Worms and Dragon’s Blood each got the animated treatment, presented as 30-minute cartoons.

CBS Storybreak originally ran for two seasons, although new material wasn’t aired every week. Often, they would rerun past episodes, allowing kids to catch up on any stories they might have missed during the original airing. For its efforts, the show earned an Emmy nomination during its first season.

CBS returned the show to its Saturday morning line-up in the 90s. Although no new episodes were created, the series did get a new host, Malcolm Jamal Warner, another familiar face due to his role as Theo on The Cosby Show. He would stick around for five seasons.

As it turns out, Reading Rainbow had little to fear from the competition. It lasted for an astounding 21 seasons and garnered some 200 awards. But despite the many talents of amicable host LaVar Burton, he was, if we are being honest, no Captain Kangaroo – and that’s what made CBS Storybreak a special entity in its own right, one that helped impart of love of reading on generations of youngsters.

Do you have fond memories of watching CBS Storybreak as a kid? We’d love to hear all of your childhood memories of this classic show in our comments section below.

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