LeVar Burton seems to be on a life-long mission to put books in the hands of kids, and thank god for that. As the star of the widely popular show and indelible part of my youth Reading Rainbow, he told a generation of kids that they can go anywhere and be anything.
And now he wants to give a whole new generation of kids the same message using the new technology that we now have at our disposal.
Burton has announced that he is launching RRKidz, and educational app that takes the world of Reading Rainbow to the iPad and select Android devices. The app will of course contain books - 300 at the launch. It will also contain videos of Burton exploring different real-life places, mirror the content of the original PBS Reading Rainbow. He's already recorded videos all over NASA, for instance. The new app will also feature educational games.
Burton wants this app to stand out in a crowded field of educational apps for kids. He tells Fast Company that he will be "curator in chief," hand picking the books, games and other app features.
"I'm the curator," he says. "I chose the voices, I put together the team; this is the value of 25-plus years of experience that I bring to this venture." Reading Rainbow is a cultural landmark, and Burton both hosted an produced it. So if anyone knows how to get kids engaged when it comes to reading, it's him.
The app will also include some special features - a truly multimedia experience for the readers. The stories will sometimes come with enhanced voice-overs from Burton himself, special animations (part of what made the show such a hit) and games built right into the PDF book itself.
Remember a few months ago when I tweeted about Reading Rainbow coming back?
"For 25 years Reading Rainbow gave me the opportunity to excite children about books and reading through the medium of television. With RRKidz, I will be able to bring that same spirit of discovery, imagination and adventure to today’s digitally connected kids through enhanced e-books,” says Burton. “RRKidz’ innovative platform allows us to deliver an incredibly exciting interactive storytelling experience through partnerships with leading publishers.”
Apparently, the initial app is just the beginning. RRKidz wants to grow into a larger educational platform.
This will most likely be a huge hit. You want to know how relevant Reading Rainbow remains? Check out what made its way up the Reddit charts recently (Courtesy) -
And for relevance and nostalgia's sake, please enjoy this awesomeness -