The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter and a Bigger Picture

May 29, 2014

By now you may have heard about the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter. Yesterday the Washington Post released an article about it and how some people might want to reconsider donating, or at least look more closely at what is being offered and where their money is going. The article demonizes the initiative far more than I think is really necessary, but that’s not really what I want to talk about. For the sake of balance, there’s a much more positive article about the Kickstarter campaign on Jezebel.

The Post mentions that one reason Reading Rainbow was cancelled back in 2006/2009 (new episodes stopped in 2006 and re-runs stopped airing in 2009) was because literacy programming was heading more in a teach-them-how/phonics-type direction, while Reading Rainbow was more about fostering a love of reading.

This is what I want to talk about because obviously kids need to learn how to read in order to love it — I’m not arguing against basic literacy programming — but access to books and encouraging enthusiasm about books and reading is just as important. In fact literacy studies have shown as much — that greater access to books leads to increased literacy in children at various reading levels.

Yes, we want kids to know how to read, but imagine if they wanted to read. Programs like Reading Rainbow and Wishbone made books exciting and fun. Even if they’re not directly teaching reading skills, encouraging an interest (if not a love) of books and reading should be an integral part of any literacy initiative.

I’m not really familiar with the Reading Rainbow app — you have to pay for it and since I don’t have any kids who would directly benefit from it, I’d only be paying for the nostalgia factor — and thus can’t comment too much on this particular Kickstarter. But LeVar Burton has shown himself to be dedicated to literacy and education and there are subsidies for underprivileged schools, which seems like, at least, a good step.

Literacy education is important and while we (try to) fund libraries and traditional programs in schools, we should recognize the changing environments in which children learn and adapt in order to better serve their needs so that they not only learn how to read, but develop a love of it as well.

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One Response to “The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter and a Bigger Picture”

  1. patricia said

    wow! love it. 🙂 hi i’m a newbie, and it would be great if you checked out my blog – i follow back! ( ps nice blog ) kisses. x

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