Flashback To Your Childhood: How Reading Rainbow May Help A New Generation Improve Literacy

For so many of us, Reading Rainbow, the popular television show, was a key part of our childhood. We sang the songs along with host LeVar Burton and learned phonetics in a fun and creative way. Reading Rainbow aired on PBS from 1983 to 2006, but thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, backed by celebrities such as Seth MacFarlane, the show raised the funds to resurrect its existence using innovative technology.

Reading Rainbow stopped airing in 2006, but host LeVar Burton and the company RRKidz created an educational app in 2012 to continue educating children across the world, according to Forbes. The popularity of the app created demand to expand the popular reading program to additional platforms if funding became available. A crowdfunding campaign raised more than $5 million after 35 days, which allows Burton to enhance the Apple application and expand Reading Rainbow to XBox, Android, and Roku.

Via Sam Howzit

Children all over the world will have access through an app and a web version of the popular reading program.

Celebrity supporters helped the Kickstarter fund-raising campaign reach its $1 million goals within 11 hours, with the proceeds building to $5 million within 35 days. With a $1 million contribution from Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, the fund has surpassed $6 million. The slogan of the camp revolved around the idea that every child everywhere should have access to reading materials and instruction.

Via Facebook

The development of a free educational app is a necessity, according to Burton, who emphasizes the importance of this project and cites that one in four children in the United States is at risk of becoming illiterate. The need for educational materials has surged, especially since the literacy rate has remained unchanged for the past 10 years, as reported by the Huffington Post. The U.S. Department of Education reports that in 2013, 32 million adults cannot read and 19 percent of high school graduates are illiterate.

Illiteracy can lead to poverty and even crime, according to the Department of Justice. In fact, 85 percent of juveniles within the court system cannot read, and 70 percent of U.S. inmates can barely read above the fourth-grade level.

Reading Rainbow and its host Burton are seeking to change these statistics and improve literacy as a whole.

The innovative program is based on technology and delivers lessons, books and interactive reading activities via tablets, mobile devices and computers in both classrooms and within homes. The app also brings the library to your fingertips. Skybrary, a Web-based digital library, hosts a collection of more than 500 children’s books and video field trips for children under 9, reports Kickstarter. The books and activities focus on friends, science, adventure, animals, music and much more.

“What better way to get your kids excited about reading than with a comic book?” —LeVar Burton / Via Facebook

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As the television program brought smiles to our faces, so does the educational app, which encourages reading and learning in an engaging manner. Children now have access to the popular host’s reading tips and lessons. But the app is not just for kids. Adults, too, can learn to read, access books and work on literacy skills, to improve the overall literacy rate.

The number of people worldwide who are unable to read is shocking and saddening.

We need reading skills to function in our daily lives, communicate with others and prepare ourselves to make informed decisions. Reading Rainbow has impacted thousands of lives over the years, and with advanced technology and the support of donors, it has been able to expand. The Kickstarter campaign has ended, but you can still help in the fight to increase literacy rates by supporting the Literacy Site.

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