“Take a look, it’s in a book…”
It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? The theme song of what was once the only show I looked forward to in the mornings? I was so little when I watched Reading Rainbow that I honestly can’t remember what time of day it was on or what the specific books were that were described by Levar Burton, but I can still feel the magnitude of the effect it had on my life.
Now that I have little nieces and nephews, I can appreciate the limits my parents put on television in our home growing up. I can doubly appreciate the number of times my parents put a book in my hands and turned the TV off when I got cranky or had simply been staring mindlessly at the “tube” for too long.
My nieces and nephews love books. As toddlers, they literally teethed on board books made specially for that age. As preschoolers, they memorized countless stories about Curious George until they could read them to their parents instead of having their parents read the story to them. Last Christmas I got to give my oldest niece Matilda and BFG and when she called me a few weeks ago (her first time dialing and doing all the talking with no parental help except finding my number), she told me about how much she loved Matilda. I don’t think I stopped smiling for two days.
It helps that my siblings and sisters-in-law read voraciously themselves, and that the kids’ extended family members are constantly carting around books and talking about them. They have literally grown up surrounded by the written word just like I did.
But, as I’m sure you know, Reading Rainbow has been off the air since 2009. As many programs across public access mediums like PBS and NPR have been cut because of funding woes and loss of audience because of new mediums, Reading Rainbow was cancelled after a 26 years and more than two dozen Emmy nods.
Earlier this week, the news hit Twitter that my favorite show was about to be reborn. That’s right. Reading Rainbow is now an iPad app. I know we’re not all iPad users or even Apple-friendly, but I’m still squealing a little bit with joy over it. I downloaded it this morning, and have been playing around with it, anticipating showing it to my nieces and nephews when we’re all together for family vacation in August.
Any way I can keep them as excited about books as they are now is great.
Sure there are going to be some downsides to the app. For unlimited access to titles, there’s a monthly subscription fee of $9.99. For free, you get access to one title per month. As far as I know, it’s only available on an iPad and not on any of the other tablets. And no, this is not a money making scheme to bring the show back to television according to a number of the news articles I read before I downloaded.
But still. I can turn on my iPad, launch this app and be transported back to the 80s and my babysitter’s shag carpeting. The theme song is the same. Levar Burton is still the host. And another generation is going to fall in love with books as a result.
But you don’t have to take my word on it…
(There was really no other way to end this piece, was there?)
Video via YouTube