Reading Rainbow

LeVar Burton To Launch Free Web Version Of 'Reading Rainbow'

The former host and executive producer launched a Kickstarter campaign Wednesday to raise $1 million for a free web version of "Reading Rainbow."

By Christian Bryant | May 28, 2014

Take a look! It's... on the web. Or at least that's the plan. Former "Reading Rainbow" host and executive producer LeVar Burton is trying to give a new generation of children a chance to "go anywhere" and "be anything" by creating a web-accessible version of the show. 

"We're creating an unlimited library of books and video field trips for today's digitally connected kids. Delivered through browsers, right into schools and homes everywhere." (Via RRKIDZ / Reading Rainbow)

To do that, Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign Wednesday to raise $1 million to make a web version of "Reading Rainbow" completely free. (Via Kickstarter)

The hit show originally ran for more than two decades and scored a Peabody Award and several Emmys along the way. But, according to Burton, the publically-funded show was taken off the air because of the implementation of 2001's No Child Left Behind act. (Via PBS / "Reading Rainbow")

"No Child Left Behind is doing exactly that. So the mandate is to teach kids how to read, the rudiments of reading, and there was no money in the budget to encourage, foster a love of reading." (Via Mediabistro)

Shortly after "Reading Rainbow" went off the air, Burton and his business partner bought the global rights to the brand and started RRKIDZ, a digital media company for... well, you guessed it: kids. 

With the rights to "Reading Rainbow," Burton and RRKIDZ helped launch an iPad app of the children's show. But that wasn't enough. (Via RRKIDZ / Reading Rainbow)

Burton told The Verge only 33 percent of families in the U.S. have access to tablets while 97 percent of families have Internet access. He added, "You take advantage of where kids are. Back in the ’80s that was in front of the television set. Today, you have to have access to the web. Universal access is really what this effort is all about."

While some Kickstarters reward contributors with never-before-experienced products, Burton says in his pitch he's offering autographs, a personalized voicemail message, a group picnic, and, probably the most intense reward, a chance to rock the visor he wore as Lt. Geordi La Forge on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." (Via Flickr / Harald Nagel, Paramount Pictures / "Star Trek: The Next Generation")

Burton and the "Reading Rainbow" crew have until July 2 to reach their goal of $1 million. At press time, they were already past the halfway mark. 

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