Take a look, it’s in a book… and soon it will be online!


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I had a pretty sheltered childhood. We didn’t have cable growing up. My mom was more of a “go play outside” kind of mom. Our TV time was limited, and when we got our first computer, screen time was carefully monitored, too. An hour total in front of a screen: that included TV time.

When it came to entertainment, the real escape was in books. Reading Rainbow was especially awesome because it combined the two things I loved the most: my precious 30 minutes of television and reading. That show got me excited about reading, exposing me to so many different things in the world I’d never seen before, like big cities or fantastical settings or kids my age from across the globe. Reading Rainbow gave me a hunger – and that’s what every form of media strives for – a connection to their audience.

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In case you missed the recent collective social media freakout, LeVar Burton and the Reading Rainbow crew are back after the show’s cancellation in 2009. Some could argue Reading Rainbow never really left, considering the success of their app since it debuted two years ago.

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On May 28, Burton and the Reading Rainbow team launched a Kickstarter campaign with a $1 million goal to develop a web version of Reading Rainbow, to build out a classroom version, and – here’s the fun part – to offer it for free to schools in need. This Kickstarter won’t bring the Reading Rainbow we grew up with back to the airwaves. In the face of the widespread movement toward internet streaming, the Reading Rainbow crew hopes to take the program in a new direction. Reading Rainbow’s new agenda will take the highly successful app and transform it for the web, where they hope to reach an even greater audience. Burton reported to Verge that 97 percent of children have access to the Internet, while only 33 percent have access to a tablet.

“Our goal is to cultivate a love of reading in all children, not just those that have tablets,” according to the Kickstarter page. “To reach kids everywhere, we need to be everywhere: we need to be on the web.”

From what we’ve read, the fully funded program will also provide teaching tools, “including teacher guides, leveling, and dashboards.”

If the excitement around the Studio was a reflection of the Internet buzz, it is no surprise that the Kickstarter reached its goal in under 24 hours. Today, it’s at $3.2 million raised, and steadily climbing. With such overwhelming support, Reading Rainbow has set a new goal of $5 million which will include: increasing their presence to game consoles (Xbox, PlayStation, etc.), mobile phones, and set-top boxes like AppleTV and ROKU, as well as providing the services free to 6,000 additional classrooms.

We’re eager to see what ultimately comes of this. But for now… take a look, it’s in a book, it’s Reading Rainbow.

Do you have a Reading Rainbow memory? Share it in the comment section below. 

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