[Burton] teamed up with business partner Mark Wolfe, obtained the rights to the brand andlaunched the Reading Rainbow app. The free app, published by RRKidz, features more than 300 books, and 50 video field trips as well as classic clips from the TV show aimed at kids aged 3-9. According to iTunes, users have accessed more than 3 million books and video field trips in less than a year since launch.
Reading Rainbow host, actor and book app creator LeVar Burton recently tweeted that hosting the quiz show Jeopardy would be “my dream job.” His tweet inspired an online petition that is already nearing 1,000 signatures.
In the video embedded above, Reader Rainbow host LeVar Burton shares the message that introduced an entire generation of readers to books on PBS: “a book lets you zoom through time and space.
Symphony of Science sound artist John D. Boswell created the short and inspiring video, turning classic Reading Rainbow footage into an auto-tuned song. What was your favorite Reading Rainbow book?
Check it out: “For years, LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow have taught kids everywhere about the power of books and imagination. To this day, the show continues to encourage a love of reading and connect children to the world they live in through quality literature — so they can “go anywhere, be anything.” With this remix, John Boswell has captured those enduring lessons in song — a fitting tribute to an important part of PBS history.”
Many parents worry about how their kids use digital devices. Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton offered some simple advice for making sure our kids get the most out of this new technology. Here’s an excerpt from the video interview (embedded above):
These devices are not going to go away. There’s always going to be a lot of mindless (and mind-numbing) content available. It’s always necessary to have balance, and we want to be a part of that balance. We want to bring the alternative. I think the technology is capable of so much more and kids deserve more. They will use what we give them. I believe all media is educational. The question is, what are we teaching them?
Follow these links to get more literary and media advice from Burton.
For your weekend reading pleasure, here are our top stories of the week, including David Foster Wallace on your Mac’s thesaurus, the best bookstores on Tumblr and LeVar Burton talking about Reading Rainbow (video embedded above).
When the iPad debuted in 2010, Star Trek The Next Generation‘s LeVar Burton wasn’t as surprised by the device as others. After all, characters on his show and the original series were beaming each other up, video chatting and using touch devices way before Apple.
“As a fan of science fiction, I’m not surprised because I recognize that science fiction literature tends to ask us what I believe to be are two of the most powerful words in language in combination: what if,” Burton said in our final Media Beat interview.
“I believe there was some kid who watched those original episodes of Star Trek… That kid grew up, became an engineer, a designer of product, and is responsible for a piece of technology in the flip cell phone that’s more prevalent now than toasters,” he continued. “You look at Bluetooth ear devices, Star Trek. You look at Flip cell phones, Star Trek. Devices, seeing devices for the blind inspired by Geordi‘s visor? Science fiction literature and pop culture really is a main conduit for how we invent our future reality.”
If everyone loved Reading Rainbow, why in the world was it taken off the air? Politics, says, host LeVar Burton.
“That’s the story that a lot of folks don’t get. No Child Left Behind is doing exactly that, and so the mandate is to teach kids how to read, the rudiments of reading, and there was no money in the budget to foster a love of reading,” he said in our Media Beat interview. “Look, we have spent so much money on the machinery of war in the last 10, 12 years, we are having to make really ridiculous choices. And we’re sacrificing our kids, literally sacrificing our kids.”
So, Burton and his business partner, Mark Wolfe, bought the rights to the name, launched a new company, RRKidz, and created the Reading Rainbow app featuring over 150 books, video field trips and classic clips from the TV show.
“We have value, a product that is of value for families, that is economic and full of the kind of enriching content that the brand, Reading Rainbow, has always been known for,” said Burton.
Who didn’t love Reading Rainbow as a kid? The iconic 80s show used songs, celebrities and video to actually make literature fun. Well, times they are a changin’, says the show’s onetime host, LeVar Burton.
“Television was the medium and the technology of its time in the 80s and 90s, but you know better than I do that this is the digital-native generation,” he explained in our latest Media Beat interview. “And they consume most of their screen time on mobile devices. That’s where we wanna be. If you want to be where they are, you’ve gotta be on a mobile device.”
Furthermore, Burton said, the days of printed books are also numbered. ”We’re looking at a future, whenever it comes, that we’re gonna consume most of the reading that we do on some kind of electronic device or another. We will still have printed books; they’ll never go away. I think our emotional attachment to them is too strong. What it will do, I believe though, is make the books that we own more valuable to us, more precious.”
(And watch the full interview for a freakin’ awesome homage to that beloved RR theme song.)
Here’s more from the release: “The Twitter handle @ReadingRainbow was taken and held by someone not using it and not connected with the show. Yesterday evening, Burton tweeted to the account in hopes of obtaining the famous Twitter handle to promote a new Reading Rainbow App he is developing with his company RRKIDZ. He tweeted just after 7 PM PST last night, and less than 2 hours later had the account in his hands! It just goes to show the power of Reading Rainbow and LeVar Burton!”