Reading Rainbow

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  • TV-Y
  • 1983
  • 20 Seasons
  • 8.4  (5,048)

Reading Rainbow was a children's television show that premiered on PBS in 1983, hosted by actor LeVar Burton. The show ran for 23 seasons and became one of the longest-running and most beloved children's programs in television history. Each episode of Reading Rainbow focused on a different children's book, chosen for its inspiring story, captivating illustrations, or important social message. Throughout the episode, LeVar would read portions of the book aloud, explore its themes and characters, and take viewers on a journey through the story's setting or historical context.

The show was known for its engaging format and high production values, which combined live-action segments, animation, and puppetry to bring books to life on screen. In addition to reading aloud, LeVar would often introduce young viewers to real-life people and places connected to the book's themes, such as visiting a farm to learn about life on the frontier, or meeting with an astronaut to learn about space travel. These segments not only helped to contextualize the story for young viewers, but also encouraged them to explore the world beyond their own experience.

Reading Rainbow was also noteworthy for its commitment to promoting literacy and a love of reading among children. Each episode featured interviews with young readers and celebrities, who shared their favorite books and reading habits with viewers. In addition, the show included a segment at the end of each episode, called the "Book Review", in which children from across the country submitted video reviews of their favorite books, encouraging other young viewers to discover new stories and authors.

Throughout its run, Reading Rainbow won numerous awards for its inspiring content, including several Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. It was also praised for its diversity and inclusivity, featuring stories and characters from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds, and encouraging all children to discover the joy of reading.

Despite its popularity and critical acclaim, Reading Rainbow faced an uncertain future in the early 2000s, as PBS struggles to secure funding and find a new generation of viewers. In 2006, after 23 seasons and over 150 episodes, the show aired its final episode, leaving behind a legacy of inspiring storytelling, educational programming, and fearless advocacy for literacy and learning. Today, Reading Rainbow lives on through its digital platform, which includes an app that features interactive book recommendations, videos, and games.

Reading Rainbow is a series that is currently running and has 20 seasons (177 episodes). The series first aired on January 1, 1983.

Reading Rainbow
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Two Old Potatoes and Me
5. Two Old Potatoes and Me
January 21, 2005
Jordan Puryear reads Two Old Potatoes and Me, about a girl who works with her father to recycle two rotted potatoes by replanting them using the sprouts to grow a whole new crop of potatoes. LeVar, working with his daughter, is inspired to make potato dishes from recipes in the book.
Mr. George Baker
3. Mr. George Baker
December 17, 2004
Wayne Brady narrates the story of an elderly man who decides to go back to school to learn to read, even though he is almost 100, and his relationship with his young neighbor as they wait for the bus every day.
Where to Watch Reading Rainbow
Reading Rainbow is available for streaming on the PBS website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Reading Rainbow on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    January 1, 1983
  • IMDB Rating
    8.4  (5,048)
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