Okay, I'll admit that I haven't seen “Reading Rainbow” in probably twenty years since I was a bright-eyed kid sitting in front of the television following LeVar Burton bring the world of books to life. I did find it a tad corny, but tuned in regularly because I liked books. And subconsciously, I'm sure, because Burton is black. And he talked about books. How often do you see a black man talking about books on television? There wasn't (isn't?) a show like it. I felt connected to it. Over the program's twenty-six years, I'm sure there were many kids who felt the same way.
So I'm actually sad about the show's departure from the small screen. NPR reports that "Reading Rainbow" was the third longest-running program in PBS history after "Sesame Street" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
What's probably more sad about the loss of "Reading Rainbow" are the reasons that NPR notes as the causes for the program’s cancellation. First: No one, including PBS, wants to foot the bill. Second: Funding in education is concentrating on initiatives that teach children to read, not ones that encourage them to read or show them why reading is important in the first place. Tragic.
While I agree that we have to teach kids to read, we have to simultaneously foster a need and desire to read. And that's what "Reading Rainbow" helped to do.
Well at least it did for this kid.
is a writer, speaker, author of books for adults and youth, and the book columnist for The Root. Her most recent book is \"The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs.\" Visit her at feliciapride.com.