Reading Rainbow

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Reading Rainbow is an acclaimed American children's television series that has aired for over 20 years on the PBS television network, starting in 1983 and ending in 2005. Reading Rainbow now appears in reruns on many PBS staions across the United States, including the regular public station in America, WNET in New York City, WMFE in Orlando, Florida, WGTE in Toledo, Ohio, KCTS in Seattle, Washington, WETA in Washington, DC, and WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts. As of 2004, It has been one of the longest running educational book series in the history of public broadcasting.

The show is designed to encourage reading amongst youth. Using no puppets or gimmicks, this sincere, evenly paced show remains popular among children and educators. It is hosted by LeVar Burton, well known for his role in Roots and in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The show includes a number of segments in each episode. LeVar Burton introduces each segment where he relates interesting facts about turtles, or the Middle Ages, or some other item of interest, whatever the theme du jour may be. The series has kept itself current. In recent years it has tackled emotional issues that other children's programs have historically avoided. Topics like 9-11, childbirth and prison have been presented from the child's point of view. A regular segment has a children's book being read by a noted actor. Hundreds of actors have read on Reading Rainbow including Christopher Plummer, Patrick Stewart, and Donald Sutherland. The final segment of each show, called "You don't have to take my word for it" (from Levar Burton's introductory phrase), has children giving capsule reviews of books. Since the books have all been selected for quality, the reviews are always positive. Librarians, teachers and parents rely on the Reading Rainbow book list as the trusted source for great children's books.

Each episode is introduced with an animation of children reading books to be instantly transformed into astronauts, knights and other people from across space and time as the theme song (originally recorded by R&B legend Chaka Khan) plays.

Reading Rainbow is one of the most adult watched children's shows ever produced. It has won the Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series for 7 out of the last 10 years. The series was nominated for 6 more Daytime Emmy Awards in 2005.

On May 20, 2005, the series was honored with another Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series. It also won 3 more Emmys for Writing, Photography and Editing - for a total of four Emmys. It was the most honored children's series of 2005 and one of the most acclaimed shows in all of television.

Theme Song

Butterfly in the sky,
I can go twice as high,
Take a look, it's in a book,
A Reading Rainbow,

I can go ANY-where,
Friends to know,
And ways to grow,
A Reading Rainbow,

I can be ANY-thing,
Take a look, it's in a book,
A Reading Rainbow (Reading Rainbow),
A Reading RAINBOW! (Reading Rainbow, Reading Rainbow!)


  • For seven seasons, LeVar Burton hosted this series concurrently with his regular role as Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994). One 1987 segment of Reading Rainbow dealt with science fiction and included behind-the-scenes footage of TNG as well as the only (to date) authorized broadcast of bloopers from that series.

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