Many adults my age (I’m 26) have fond memories of Reading Rainbow from their childhood. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. No, it wasn’t because I despised reading or hated LeVar Burton or anything, it’s because I didn’t watch too much PBS as a child. Now, as an adult, I appreciate the joy of public programming. I chalk up my not watching Reading Rainbow to my being a buffoon of a child.
Too many Power Rangers, and not enough public television.
Even though I wasn’t a follower, I can understand the heartbreak that the show’s 2006 cancellation must have brought to those who, after years of watching the program themselves, were sharing their joy of reading with their own children. But, the good news about the Reading Rainbow, much like a good series of books, is that it was never really gone. It’s just been changing and reinventing itself. In 2012, Burton and his partner Mark Wolfe launched the Reading Rainbow app for iOS devices, and in little over a day, the app became the #1 app in the educational section of the iTunes Store.
Now, Burton and crew are on a new mission. Expounding on the idea of what the app did for private readers, Reading Rainbow is planning on bringing it’s unlimited library of books and video field trips to classrooms across America. To do this, Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $1,000,000 needed to get the project off the ground. And, thanks to the support of fans like you, that goal was reached within a day. At the time of my writing this article, the fundraiser was a little over $2.5 million and growing steadily by the minute.
This project is very ambitious, but so completely worth it. We here in the United States don’t think about things like illiteracy anymore, because we think it’s a thing of the past. This is something that our grandparents faced. Like polio, we think that this scourge had been eradicated long ago. But, according to a study released in April of 2013 by the National Institute of Literacy, some 14% of American adults are illiterate. That’s 32 million adults who can’t read. Why not stop that statistic at it’s source: the ill-equipped classroom.
With the money gained from the Kickstarter campaign, the updated Reading Rainbow programming will be shopped to schools all around the country. Those who can afford it will pay for the services. But, the best part is that for the schools who can’t afford to pay, which is probably the schools with higher rates of illiteracy, will be given the programming for free. So, every dollar helps, especially when those who could use the program the most can’t afford to get it.
The most amazing fact I’ve seen with this Kickstarter is that a majority of this funding hasn’t come from large lump sum donations, but from smaller, more modest donations. The $5 pledges are over 10,000, and the $10 donations are heading that way very soon. It’s a true grassroots movement that’s aimed to eradicate illiteracy once and for all.
Do you want to help? Check out the video below and follow the link embedded within to get to the Kickstarter page. By making it all this way into my article, I know you like to read. So, why not help a child in need by giving them the joy of reading, thanks to the Reading Rainbow.