“Butterfly in the sky
I can go twice as high,
Take a look,
It’s in a book,
A Reading Rainbow…”
For slightly over two decades, millions of children were encouraged to develop a love of literature, thanks to the innovative and critically-acclaimed PBS series, Reading Rainbow. For its efforts, the show garnered over 200 awards during its run and is still fondly remembered by many a former kid who spent hours in front of the television, enthralled by one good book after another.
Hosted by LeVar Burton (of Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation fame), Reading Rainbow revolved around books and reading, with several regular segments. Burton would open each episode by visiting an interesting place that matched the theme of the day’s book. Celebrity guest readers, like Martin Short, Ed Asner and Jane Pauley, also stopped by to offer their narrative skills. Some showed off their skill for rhyming:
The books featured in the series ran the gamut in their subject matter. They could be simple fairy tales, cautionary stories, myths and legends – or even about botany, biology and space exploration. At the end of the show, Burton would suggest further reading in the same or similar vein as the featured book.
The third-longest-running show in PBS history, Reading Rainbow debuted in 1983 and aired for a respectable 21 seasons, with Burton serving as host and executive producer throughout. For its efforts, the series received numerous accolades, including a prestigious Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards, ten of them for Outstanding Children’s Series.
While many were disappointed when Reading Rainbow went off the air in 2005, they may have reason to rejoice in the future. Since 2010, Burton has repeatedly hinted at the show’s possible return. As of this writing, recent news reports that shooting for the new series has just completed.
With any luck, this remarkable educational series will return and continue it’s mission to encourage young readers for generations to come. Meanwhile, millions of current readers owe a tip of the hat to Reading Rainbow for nurturing their own love of books. If you count yourself among them, we’d love to hear your thoughts in our comments section.