Thursday, September 10, 2009

The End of the Rainbow

We're a tad behind on this post, but I thought it was important to write regardless.

Reading Rainbow
, which ran on PBS for 26 years, had its final show on August 28th, 2009. The program won more than two dozen Emmys, and is the third longest-running children's show in PBS history, outmatched only by Seseame Street and Mister Rogers. According to news reports, the series ended its run due to lack of funding.

This show was so fantastic because it featured a book-related adventure every episode, capped off by book reviews by kids for kids. I used to love it when the grown-up LaVar Burton would say "But - you don't have to take my word for it" and fade out as a review by a young reader would begin.

Online book forums and Amazon's "Customers who bought this also bought" listings didn't exist back in 1983, when the show first began. In some ways it was the best source for new children's book recommendations that you would then try to find at your local library or bookstore.

It is also interesting to note that Reading Rainbow didn't really focus on teaching children how to read - rather, it promoted the enjoyment that can come from reading. In these recent years, it can be argued that a baseline shift has occurred regarding literacy and that the focus is now more on the mechanics of reading, (spelling, phonics, etc.) rather than fostering a love for reading in and of itself.

Do you or your children also have fond memories of this show? What was your favorite segment? Do you think online forums and recommendations are more useful than a televised show?

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