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Friday, August 28, 2009

"Reading Rainbow" closes the book on its storied run

After almost 30 years of encouraging kids to pick up books and "take a look," one of the longest-running children's television program is coming to an end. "Reading Rainbow" will air its final episode today. Funding for the program dried out a few years ago and as the contract comes to an end today, producers are essentially closing the books on a franchise that has been a hallmark of PBS programming for several decades.

As someone who loved -- and still loves -- the show, it's sad to know that future generations of kids won't have the opportunity to hum along to the catchy tune ("Butterfly in the sky... I can go twice as a high...") or be encouraged to pick up a book by host LeVar Burton (aka Geordi La Forge from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and Kunta Kinte from "Roots"). It's been a while since I've even seen an episode of the show, but "Reading Rainbow" was a staple in my after-school viewing well into my elementary school years. The format of the show didn't change much, but the themes varied from lighthearted topics to often serious issues like death -- and, best of all, it didn't feel like an "educational" show.

I never got to accomplish my dream of appearing on the show to recommend a book, but I'll always remember "Reading Rainbow" for giving my bookworm ways an outlet. Perhaps another show will take its place in the future, but I doubt it. As Burton always said in his signature sign-off, "you don't have to take my word for it."

And, just for fun, here's the opening theme:



--Malavika Jagannathan, mjaganna@greenbaypressgazette.com

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2 Comments:

I grew up on this show as well. Like the author of the article, I have not seen an episode of the show in many years. I believe the show made a significant impact on my young life and perhaps my life in general. The intro itself, I believe, is still innovative- even in today's times; it remains imaginative and inspires creativity. The show inspired me to use my imagination and to better myself by encouraging me to bolster public education with self-education. To me, it's a sad day as I see a great show come to it's finality. I'm sure it has been a benefit to many other viewers in its time on the air. Kudos to an exemplary public broadcast show.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 28, 2009 at 9:05 PM  

Is that Levar Burton or Baron Davis in the picture?

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 30, 2009 at 12:46 PM  

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