May 29th, 2014

News: Reading Rainbow on Kickstarter

As you may have already heard, LeVar Burton and the good people at Reading Rainbow launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday.  The goal?  Raise $1,000,000.00 to create a new web presence for Reading Rainbow's content (currently limited to an iPad app) and subsidize the costs of offering this content to schools and low income families.  But don't take my word for it - let Mr. Burton tell you himself:

If you haven't yet visited the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter page, go check it out.

In a mere eleven hours, the $1,000,000 goal was reached.
As I sit here typing this post, the campaign passed $2,000,000.

That's double the original Kickstarter goal in less than forty-eight hours.  That is phenomenal.

I've written of my love of LeVar Burton in the past, and it seems I'm not alone.  People loved Reading Rainbow growing up, and they want a version of the show to be available to their children or their friends' children.  A strong current of nostalgia is funding this project, and I think it's amazing.  It's a real testament to the impact the show had a generation of readers.

One thing that I hope Reading Rainbow will do with the additional funds is develop a cell phone app for multiple platforms.  In the video, LeVar Burton speaks of his desire to reach out to people who can't afford iPads, which is fantastic; but based on my experience people in lower income brackets are far more likely to have cell phones than desktop computers, so a webpage-based Reading Rainbow will not necessarily reach this audience with greater success than the iPad app does now.  I do think a webpage-based version of the service is needed, and since most classrooms I've visited usually have a desktop for the teacher, this may be the best platform for reaching out to schools and educators.  But it definitely shouldn't be Reading Rainbow's only addition.

When I posted a link to this Kickstarter on my Facebook, one of my friends objected to the fact that Reading Rainbow is now a paid subscription service.  "If people are donating," she believes, "then it should be free." Reading Rainbow is no longer sponsored by PBS.  Donations are a great way to fund expansions or short-term projects, but they aren't a long-term solution and they aren't a smart way to pay for day-to-day expenses.  Like everyone else, I would prefer the service to be free - but I also want the shows to be reliable and updated regularly with well-produced content, and a subscription service does provide regular revenue to keep Reading Rainbow online and up-to-date with current technology.

But hey!  Who else loves Reading Rainbow and is excited about this Kickstarter campaign?