LeVar Burton Wants to Give Us a Live-Streamed Version of His Podcast. Legal Issues Present Challenge

Illustration for article titled LeVar Burton Wants to Give Us a Live-Streamed Version of His Podcast. Legal Issues Present Challenge
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It's Lit!It's Lit!Where all things literary live at The Root

If you were a child at any point between 1983 and 2006 and Reading Rainbow wasn’t instrumental in kicking off your educational experience, did you even have a childhood?


To some, that question may seem to be mired in hyperbole, but to those of us who were raised on the series, its presenter, LeVar Burton is a certified icon and no child (or adult for that matter) should be deprived of his excellence.

Now, Burton wants to use his energy and his educational stylings to see us through this period of self-quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Burton tweeted out his desire to take his LeVar Burton Reads podcast to a live-streaming platform.

“I’ve been busting my brain for about a week now trying to figure out how to do a live-streamed version of #LeVarBurtonReads,” Burton wrote. “I figured that during this difficult time I could contribute by reading aloud to folks who could use some diversion for themselves and their families.”

The only issue is that Burton can’t read the work of other authors without their permission on other platforms outside of his podcast without the possibility of facing lawsuits.


According to VICE, Burton can read from public-domain books without running into any legal issues and authors Neil Gaiman and Sandra Boynton have already given the Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation star the green light to read their work online saying that it would be “an honor.”

Hopefully, many more authors will follow suit and help to bring Burton’s dream to fruition. Until then, our favorite children’s TV host continues to struggle to find enough content to make his live-streamed program a reality.


Burton gave us all literary life for over two decades through his show, which aired for 21 seasons on PBS. He not only taught us reading and comprehension skills but gave millions of children an early appreciation for books and constantly encouraged us to visit our local libraries.


In 2016, Burton launched a Kickstarter to fund a new version of the show for mobile platforms and “Bring Reading Rainbow’s library of interactive books & video field trips to more platforms & provide free access to classrooms in need!”

So now that we know a thing we didn’t realize we needed could possibly become a reality, us ‘80s and ‘90s kids, especially, will be crossing our fingers in hopes that Burton’s vision for a new educational platform manifests itself. Until then, we can all tune in to his podcast where he’s free to read to us whatever he desires.


Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons


I really do hope this happens. That show was incredibly wholesome and really did inspire a joy for reading that I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life.

Also the intro was awesome. Me and my sisters drove my mom nuts randomly singing “a read-ING RAIN-boooooow”.