As host and producer of Public Broadcasting Service’s Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton nurtured a love of reading in an entire generation of kids. When the show ended in 2009, after 26 years on the air, it was the third-longest-running PBS series, outlived only by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
The end of the series didn’t stop Burton from continuing his passion for literacy. Last June he launched the interactive Reading Rainbow app, providing hundreds of books, videos and virtual tours for kids. Just 36 hours after it debuted, it became the No. 1 educational app in the country on iTunes.
“There’s still a need to connect kids and literature and real-world experiences. And that’s what we did for almost 30 years on Reading Rainbow,” Burton says. “We know kids are reading, and they’re reading a lot.”
In less than five months, children using the app have read more than 700,000 books, and a recent partnership with National Geographic Kids will only boost those numbers.
Best known for his roles in the landmark TV mini-series Roots
and the Star Trek: The Next Generation
series, Burton is an avid lifelong reader. He says one of his most influential mentors was his mom, his first teacher.
“I’m so excited about the opportunity for education with this mobile technology,” he says. “And I genuinely believe we have the opportunity to revolutionize the way we educate kids on this planet.”
READ WITH YOUR KIDS
April 2 is International Children's Book Day, commemorating the birthday of Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. Look for activities at your local library or school, and help your kids learn through reading.