“Take a look. It’s in a book. A reading rainbow.” You may remember these lyrics from the theme song of the classic educational children’s TV show Reading Rainbow. The host of the show, which ended in 2006, is the equally recognizable LeVar Burton, who also played Kunta Kinte in the classic TV miniseries Roots and cult favorite show Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Burton helped teach millions of children learn to read during Reading Rainbow’s 23-season run, and now he’s working to reach the next generation of would-be readers by going digital. Through his latest venture RRKidz, a digital library with hundreds of interactive children’s books will be made available to tablets through a free app. The launch will reportedly take place this spring.
WATCH AN ORIGINAL GRIO INTERVIEW WITH LeVAR BURTON:
LeVar Burton is making history… as one of the foremost educators in the U.S. Since 1983, Burton, the son of an English teacher, has made reading fun for children through his popular television show. In keeping up with the times, RRKidz is innovating the way children of the future will learn to read and in turn be inspired that they, as the Reading Rainbow theme song said, “can be anything.”
What’s next for Levar?
As the ‘curator in chief’, Burton said he plans to personally choose the best apps, games, videos and books to include in the RRKiz product. According to Publisher’s Weekly and Fast Company, through RRKidz, children can explore specific topics, take interactive quizzes and tests and will listen to audiobooks, some with celebrity readers.
In his own words …
“The educational system is just not getting it done,” Burton said in an interview with Fast Company. “If we’re going to reclaim our place in the world, in terms of how we educate our children and how we prepare them for the future, it’s going to get done through a private-public partnership.”
A little-known fact…
Children from low-income families who start kindergarten without previously participating in a quality educational program enter school about 18 months behind their peers, according to research.