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!”
Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton has raised funds for a follow-up to his beloved public television show, a series of smartphone and tablet enhanced eBooks for kids. His new company is called RRKidz.
The new website includes Burton’s trademark slogan from the show: “Coming Soon … but you don’t have to take my word for it.” Burton summarized the show with a twitter hashtag: “Reading Rainbow for today’s connected kids.”
Here’s more from FishbowlLA: “Fifteen months after indicating to New York Times columnist David Pogue at a Macworld event that he was raising money for a start-up, actor LeVar Burton is fully focused on the twain of education and enhanced children’s e-books. He tells Venture Beat that his company RRKidz has got $3 million in seed funding and is compiling a library of 300 iPad and Smartphone titles, with roughly 50 of those to be voiced by Burton himself. The actor is partnered on the project with Buffalo’s WNED-TV, rights-holder to the 1983-2006 PBS series Reading Rainbow.”
Actor and director LeVar Burton will assemble an army of Reading Rainbow fans for an Internet-organized event, planning a fan flash mob that will sing and dance to the show’s theme song.
UPDATE: Burton tweeted this afternoon: “Having amazing conversations with some powerful partners who want to join us in the Reading Rainbow Flash Mob IT’S ON!” Follow this link to get updates about the event. Burton created the Twitter hashtag “#readingrainbowflashmob” to spread the news about the flash mob.
According to Burton’s Twitter feed, a location-based commerce platform made the original offer: “Someone posted via @Zaarly a request to sing the Reading Rainbow theme with me, and are apparently willing to pay good money!” After that, Burton added singing to the mix, linking to the show’s theme song: “Could we really pull off a Reading Rainbow flash mob… with everyone singing?”
In our most popular publishing story of March 2010, LeVar Burton (pictured, via) hinted to his Twitter followers that Reading Rainbow could return.
Instead of doing our traditional year-in-review post, we’ve decided to collect the ten most popular stories on GalleyCat each month–sharing the stories that mattered most to our readers. Looking back at these headlines, we can see the hopes, fears, and distractions that obsessed the publishing industry in 2010. Follow this link to see the rest of the year unfold.
PBS’ beloved television show Reading Rainbow could return, according to the former host of the program.
Actor LeVar Burton has 1.6 million Twitter followers, and treated them all to some news over the weekend. Here’s the tweet: “You heard it here first… Reading Rainbow 2.0 is in th works! Stay tuned for more info. But, you don’t have to…”
Reading Rainbow ran from 1983 until 2006, introducing children to a new book each episode. Burton has continued to interact with his fans on Twitter, and this is not the first rumored return of the show. In 2009 the former host left this tweet: “Want y’all to know that I’m seriously moving forward with an idea for a new version of a Reading Rainbow like show. Webisodes for adults.”