One of my favorite childhood television shows went off the air yesterday, after 26 years on the air. I remember watching Reading Rainbow when I was 8 years old. We were living in Weymouth, MA at my Grandpa's house on Colonial Road. I would sing the theme song (it's in my head now as I write this). I loved Levar Burton and trusted him with the books that they would talk about on the show. If Burton recommended it, I needed it. If one of the kids at the end of the show recommended it and they did a good job with the review, I needed it. (How many other TV shows had kids MY AGE recommending reading material?) I watched the show pretty much every time it was on, for years. I would sit enthralled for the full 30 minutes it was on (though it always felt much longer). It was like visiting with a friend and having such a good time, that you didn't want to go home.
I remember running to the library with lists (scribbled from the episode I had just watched) of books that I needed to check out. I didn't ever *ever* just take out one book. I took out dozens of books. I was the kid buried under a pile of books as she walked out of the library. I'm still the kid buried under piles of books in my little apartment.
Then, I grew up.
I had a baby of my own. One day, I turned PBS on and there was Levar Burton, just as if he had never left. He still had a smile on his face. He still was honest and real about teaching kids to LOVE reading. Not to read. No, he didn't teach reading. He taught something more important, the LOVE of reading. The DESIRE to read. The idea and notion that if you put a book in a child's hands, it was opening up a whole 'nother UNIVERSE for that child. You trusted him when he said, "But, you don't have to take my word for it." You did. You took his word. I did. I still do when I hear the theme song. It's like the 8 year old in me is off and running to the library, with her list in her hand, singing to herself, "Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high. Take a look, it's in a book. Reading Rainbow. I can go anywhere. Friends to know and ways to grow. Reading Rainbow."
More on Reading Rainbow-
NPR's story yesterday
I signed the petition to bring Reading Rainbow back, find out more here.
2 years ago