Hours after its launch this morning, a Kickstarter campaign launched by LeVar Burtonto bring back Reading Rainbow as a web series hit its goal of raising $1 million dollars. The campaign had set a deadline of Wednesday, July 2 to raise the cash, using incentives that range from offers of Reading Rainbow mugs and calendars, to passes to the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas in July, to (for $10K) a private dinner with Burton at which you could wear the “one-and-only original visor” he wore when he played Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we would reach our goal on the very first day,” Burton told Deadline. “People are getting involved — it’s been pretty overwhelming. ”
On the Kickstarter page, Burton wrote the $1 million will get the web series launched and into 1,500 classrooms, “but once we get there, we’ve got some big ideas for stretch goals!” Reading Rainbow aired more than two decades on PBS.
“Of course, when Reading Rainbow began in 1983, we were using television to bring books to kids, meeting them where they wanted to be,” Burton wrote on the Kickstarter page. “In 2014, TV is not that place anymore. Now, we’re trying to reach a new generation of digital natives…That’s why, two years ago, I launched the Reading Rainbow App for tablets. Building on the basics of the television series, we put hundreds of quality books – and educational video field trips – right in a child’s hands. But…not all families have access to tablets. Our goal is to cultivate a love of reading in all children, not just those that have tablets. To reach kids everywhere, we need to be everywhere: we need to be on the web.”
In his pitch for donations, Burton vowed the resuscitated Reading Rainbow will be provided to “disadvantaged” classrooms for free, “along with the tools that teachers need, including teacher guides, leveling, and dashboards.”
Reading Rainbow debuted on PBS in June of 1983 and aired original episodes until November of 2006. The program encouraged children to read; each episode centered on a theme in a book, and the show recommended books for kids to read. After it was canceled in ’06, reruns aired on PBS stations until ’09 when it was pulled from the lineup.
By Lisa De Moraes