When Reading Rainbow aired its last episode back in 2006, millions of teens and 20-somethings shed a nostalgic tear for one of their favorite childhood TV shows. Now those same kids-at-heart can relive those childhood memories and interact with them on their iPad.
LeVar Burton, the host and producer of Reading Rainbow, announced this week that the Reading Rainbow app for iPad is now available. The app is designed for children 3-9 years of age, an offers hundreds of children's book with all-new videos featuring Burton. The apps uses themed "islands" to help children find books suited to their age, reading level, and interests. Each book features an audio storytelling by celebrity actors, including, of course, Burton himself. The books also feature animations and "related activities."
"I come from a family teachers, and when I was offered the opportunity to host Reading Rainbow in 1983, I recognized immediately the value in using technology to inspire kids to read," said Burton. "Reading will never go out of style, but the tools used for learning are changing. I am excited to bring Reading Rainbow back so that parents who watched the show can now share that same feel-good experience with their own children but on a platform that resonates with today's digital kids."
Similar to his Geordi LaForge character on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Burton has embraced new technologies. He has a prodigious following on Twitter, and has undergone DNA testing to trace his ethnic heritage to the Hausa people of Nigeria. Burton stated that one of the things he and app creators RRKidz, inc. were most cautious of was disappointing existing fans of Reading Rainbow.
"I am really proud to say that I do believe that we have successfully reinvented, from the bottom-up, what was a television show into a multi-dimensional experience about the exploration and discovery of quality children's literature in a digital environment that kids can lose themselves in - in a good way," said Burton.
The Reading Rainbow app is free for download in the Apple App store. It currently boasts 150 interactive books and 16 video "field trips," with the promise of more to come. In addition, the app features customized recommendations for childred as well as a reward program to encourage reading. Take a look at Burton's announcement and a hands-on demonstration of the app below:
(Video via engadget)