LeVar Burton Takes To The Internet To Bring Reading Rainbow To All Kids

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If a butterfly is in the sky and you feel you could, feasibly, fly twice as high, why not turn to Kickstarter to bring about the second coming of the Reading Rainbow? If you’re LeVar Burton, that’s just what you do.

The classic educational program beloved by 80s kids is already on the iTunes store along with a number of Reading Rainbow-branded books and apps for kids. What Burton wants to do now is to move the content to the web and give all of the content to schools for free. The company is hoping to raise $1 million to get all this done.

He writes:

Reading Rainbow’s digital collection already contains hundreds of books and video field trips… but with your help, we’ll be able to make the Reading Rainbow library available on more of the devices modern kids use to consume content. When we meet our initial goal of $1,000,000, we will launch a new version of Reading Rainbow on the single most-used digital platform: the web.Every Classroom. Together, we want to provide Reading Rainbow to as many classrooms as possible FOR FREE! When we meet our initial goal of $1,000,000, we can put Reading Rainbow in over 1500 classrooms at no cost to the schools!

We were lucky enough to have Burton in a few times to talk about his work with kids and he’s probably the primary driving force behind childhood literacy in the 1980s. He also appeared on a television show called “Star Trek: The Next Generation” which, I believe, was about space travel. This guy knows kids.

He also picked the right platform for his fundraising. These kinds of projects are perfect for crowdfunding. Burton’s current audience of interest – parents who grew up in the 1980s – are now iPad savvy and may have a little disposable income to pitch in. Most importantly, their kids are addicted to tablets and phones and they’re at a loss as to what to show them. This, then, is the perfect storm of charitable giving, a sort of feel-good trifecta that features a beloved childhood figure, cool apps, and great content.

The Reading Rainbow team set up a number of fun donation levels including a $750 “meet LeVar” package and the ultimate ST:TNG perk: a visor session with Geordi La Forge himself!

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I know, right? That’s better than meeting Captain Jean Luc Kenobi of the Starship Enterprise! Smaller prizes include fridge magnets and signed books.

“I’ve been the host and producer of Reading Rainbow for 31 years, and have done my best to teach generations of children that in the pages of a book – through reading – you can go anywhere and be anything,” writes Burton. “This isn’t a job for me: it’s a personal mission!”

That beats an artisanal pencil-case, iPod dock, or smartwatch any day.