[Article Updated] 5/31/2014
In the time since this article was written, Levar Burton was able to surpass his goal of $1 million dollars, which currently stands at $3 million and growing. Their new goal is set for $5 million since they still have 32 days left in their crowdfunding campaign. Might as well make the best of it, right? Glad to see so many to a show that gave so much to kids who watched it when it was on TV.
Remember the days when you could turn on PBS and watch Levar Burton teach you about new books, tell you stories, and go on adventures in your mind? Those were the days when learning to read was fun and interesting. I still remember the intro in my head and so did most of your friends at school. It’s what connected kids at school together, common TV shows we all watched together at home. Now you don’t have that anymore. Take a look back at a song that most kids could sing back word for word.
Brought back some memories of sitting in front of that TV and singing along didn’t it? Levar made reading fun and interesting, something most kids don’t get anymore. They have no physical connection with books today unless they have great parents who make it a habit to visit the public library once a week.
Funding for reading programs today goes to low income kids primarily. The question of “how do we get kids interested in reading” back in 1983 turned into “how do we get kids to read, period?” in 2009. This shows a lack of respect for teaching kids to read. It’s not enough that schools should be required to teach kids to read, it should primarily come from the parents. In order to use the internet one must be able to read unless all they use it for is to watch tv or movies or play video games. Mr. Burton stated, “Right now, 1 out of every 4 children in America will grow up illiterate.” How do we expect to compete with countries like Japan, China, and India where they beat us in math, science, and technology every year? Children need to not only learn how to read but to learn that it is FUN to read.
Change in Direction
In less than a day, a feat that has only been accomplished a few times on kickstarter, Levar Burton was able to meet his goal of $1 million dollars to bring back the Reading Rainbow program. As of writing this article, over $70 thousand was raised. Instead of on TV, it will now be on the web, in classrooms, and on tablets. For a long time now there has been an app of Reading Rainbow but Levar felt there needs to be more involvement and in order to make that happen he decided to raise the funds with today’s crowdfunding options. It’s great to say that he met his goal and is well pass the mark since yesterday. Chances are he will get back more than he expected but that should not come as a surprise because he gave millions of children who watched his show for three decades the idea that reading is fun, something no dollar amount can match. He created a video for his campaign, watch below.
Great ending on the video if you know who that person is. Children still do not read as much as they should for various reasons but Reading Rainbow was a show that brought different books to you and made it fun. If Reading Rainbow impacted your life in anyway share your thoughts below in the comment section.
Reading Rainbow is not the only program out there encouraging kids to read, First Book and Children’s Literacy Initiative, are a few others but they operate in a different way than how Reading Rainbow works now. Reading Rainbow was a program brought to you by PBS, a program that was free paid for by grants and other funding. First Book and Children’s Literacy are non-profits whose aim is to foster reading in children not for profit.
In one way there is a view that Kickstarter should be used to develop struggling startups from the public not for for-profit entities, which Reading Rainbow now claims for itself. Those should be high praise marks because it is For-Profit companies that know how to make their product and service last longer because that is the point of their business model. If it wasn’t for For-Profit companies, non-profits wouldn’t have anyone else to beg for money from, besides the government. Why should non-profits have to keep asking for money all the time? Shouldn’t they learn how to survive on their own? For-Profits have and they are doing great. Prices go up because costs keep going up so they improve. Non-Profits only get better at asking for money and selling small things here and there.
Reading Rainbow will be able to offer more innovative programs now that they are no longer begging for money anymore. They have come up with different ways of generating money for all their different programs. One of their programs will be for teachers to use their special tools in classrooms with a monthly subscription, whereas, schools in poor performing areas will have access to their resources for free, so there is a balance still of making sure those who need it the most get what they need and those that can afford to pay, do.
A Legacy Lives On
Whether you grew up watching the show or not, it has a special place in our hearts for what Levar Burton brought into this world for children, and even adults learning to read. He taught us that the best adventures happen in our head from the words on the pages. He taught us that we can be anyone we want when he go on the adventures in all those books. So whether you want to contribute because you want one of the special prizes he is giving away or would like to give back to a show that gave you so much, each is good enough because it will go to help a new generation of kids learn how to read in a fun and engaging way. I will never forget coming home from school waiting for the program to come on and the endless hours watching that show.
You can adopt a classroom or have a private dinner with him or appear on the show, any one of those prizes can be had for a special donation. Check out his kickstarter page and see just how big of an impact he really had and to learn more about what he wants to do now.
His online kickstarter campaign will probably break his goal by twice that amount. He will be able to fund his program and give kids the ability to read at their grade level which will benefit the rest of their life.
All I have to say is Thanks Levar Burton for making reading fun, I especially enjoyed all you taught me growing up. This also includes a nod to Mister Roger’s Neighbor program.