Monday, August 31, 2009

The End of Reading Rainbow

Even if you can't remember a specific Reading Rainbow episode, chances are, the theme song is still lodged somewhere in your head:Reading Rainbow comes to the end of its 26-year run on Friday; it has won more than two-dozen Emmys, and is the third longest-running children's show in PBS history — outlasted only by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers.

The show, which started in 1983, was hosted by actor LeVar Burton. (If you don't know Burton from Reading Rainbow, he's also famous for his role as Kunta Kinte in Roots, or as the chrome-visored Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.)

The show's run is ending, Grant explains, because no one — not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights.


Has anyone has a sweeter gig than LeVar Burton the last 20 years? He has been getting paid good money to instill the value of reading into children. He became so well known for his presence on Reading Rainbow that I thought his acting career was a side hustle. Brother Burton did his thing in Roots and my mother loved his performance on Star Trek: Next Generation. The amazing thing is that he was able to keep a very low profile. You never heard about him getting caught with a transvestite hooker or being pulled over for driving drunk. He modeled the behavior that parents wanted to see from their children. Trust and believe there were gossip mags and paparazzi praying and praying for a story to broadcast his downfall. It didn't happen...

Reading Rainbow will definitely be missed. There are some pretty mindless shows on television that supposedly help children learn. I understand that there are a number of different learning models, but I'm starting to believe that most of these shows don't have the kids' best interest at heart. Dora does some very good things, but I can't see her increasing literacy rates. I hope PBS or one of the major cable networks creates a show that emphasizes the importance of reading. I know we are in a recession, but reading education shouldn't be cut from the pedagogical budget.

Read a book! Read a book!
Read a muh'fuckin book!
Read a book! Read a book!
Read a muh'fuckin book!


Jessica Eiden Smedley said...

This makes me sad.

Julius Coxswain said...

I feel you. I hate to see positive things come to an end...