Li­brary cor­ner: ‘Read­ingRain­bow’con­tin­uestoin­spir­eread­ers

The Colonial - - OPINION - By Katye Meashey

But­ter­fly in the sky! Yes, there may very well be many a but­ter­fly in the sky now that summer is in full swing. How­ever, to many of us who were ei­ther grow­ing up dur­ing the ‘90s or had chil­dren grow­ing up dur­ing that pe­riod, those words are the iconic first lyrics to the theme song of the beloved lit­er­a­ture show “Read­ing Rain­bow”.

The PBS clas­sic, hosted by “Roots” and “Star Trek: The Next Gen­er­a­tion” star LeVar Bur­ton, ran for an amaz­ing 23 years and was a staple on lo­cal PBS chan­nels for many a child’s be­fore and af­ter-school view­ing. The show for­mula was sim­ple: Guest celebri­ties would read a book, of­ten a New­bery or Calde­cott Award win­ner. Ac­com­pa­nied by the beau­ti­ful, oc­ca­sion­ally an­i­mated, book’s il­lus­tra­tions, the sto­ries would come to life be­fore the view­ers’ eyes. The host would also visit other coun­tries and com­mu­ni­ties giv­ing kids an early look at the di­verse cul­tures and peo­ple around the planet, as well as fea­ture de­light­ful re­views of sto­ries by other chil­dren. You can likely still find books with “As Seen on Read­ing Rain­bow” stick­ers on their cov­ers at your lo­cal li­brary.

“Read­ing Rain­bow” stopped pro­duc­tion of new episodes in 2006 and ceased re­runs in 2008, but the pro­gram and its val­ues have clearly made a last­ing im­pact on those who watched in the past. It is poised to make an even greater one in the near fu­ture. Bur­ton re­cently hosted a Kick­starter cam­paign to bring the “Read­ing Rain­bow” app to the web as well as make it avail­able to a mul­ti­tude of other me­dia and stream­ing de­vices. In ad­di­tion to that, the goal was to cre­ate a class­room ver­sion of the app and make it avail­able for free to over 7,500 un­der­priv­i­leged class­rooms. The Kick­starter was a mas­sive suc­cess, meet­ing its ini­tial goal of $1 mil­lion in less than a day! It went on to hit a later $5 mil­lion goal, with an ad­di­tional $1 mil­lion pledged by Seth Mac­far­lane upon suc­cess­fully hit­ting the lat­ter goal. All to­taled, the cam­paign raised $6.5 mil­lion, mak­ing it one of the most funded Kick­starter cam­paigns and now holds the record for most back­ers ever at over 100,000 in­di­vid­ual donors!

What a great show of a mu­tual love for read­ing and the de­sire to pro­mote lit­er­acy in all chil­dren! As a long­time fan of the show, I de­cided to be a donor. I would love for as many chil­dren grow­ing up to­day as pos­si­ble to be able to ex­pe­ri­ence it for them­selves and de­velop a love of read­ing as I did. As a child, I checked out lots of the books I saw on that pro­gram to have my par­ents read to me or to try to read my­self. Many of them came from the Wil­liam Jeanes Memo­rial Li­brary, and lots of my old fa­vorites can still be checked out here — “The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash” by Trinka Hakes Noble, “The Magic School Bus In­side the Earth” by Joanna Cole and “Stel­laluna” by Janell Can­non. You can also check out other Read­ing Rain­bow fea­ture-wor­thy and award-win­ning books from here that you’re sure to en­joy.

The Wil­liam Jeanes Me- mo­rial Li­brary and Ni­cholas and Athena Karabots Cen­ter for Learn­ing is lo­cated at 4051 Joshua Road, Lafayette Hill, and serves Whitemarsh Town­ship and the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties. If you have any ques­tions about our ser­vices, please visit our web­site at jeanes­li­brary. org.

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