• 05.28.14

Levar Burton Is Bringing “Reading Rainbow” Back Via Kickstarter

LeVar Burton is finding unsurprising success in his Kickstarted efforts to bring Reading Rainbow to kids everywhere.

Levar Burton Is Bringing “Reading Rainbow” Back Via Kickstarter
LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow

(UPDATE: The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign reached its $1,000,000 goal in less than 24 hours. The campaign currently has 41,000 backers who have pledged over $1.8 million).


Because of LeVar Burton’s work as the host of the public television series Reading Rainbow and from his role as Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he’s become such an American hero that a seasons-long running joke on Community involved a character’s inability to even speak in his presence.

There’s a whole new generation of young readers who are likely to grow up sharing that feeling about Burton, as his much-beloved PBS series is due for a comeback–Kickstarter-style. Burton announced today the “Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere” campaign, which will bring a new version of the series that fostered a love of reading in countless children to the Internet–and to schools in need, for free.

Burton announced the campaign this morning, and it’s spread like wildfire–as of this writing, he’s at $400,000 of his $1,000,000 goal, but it’s basically like watching a clock ticking up, which just further reflects how passionately people adore Burton and the series he hosted on PBS for 21 seasons, until 2006 (Update: predictably, the campaign has now reached and nearly doubled its goal).

Reading Rainbow App

It also reflects how exciting some of the perks here are: A private dinner with the man himself runs a cool $3,000, during which he promises to share any Star Trek or “Butterfly in the Sky” details you may want to know (for $10,000, meanwhile, big-time Trekkers can have that same experience and also try on the visor he wore as Geordi LaForge on Star Trek). For those with deep pockets and a sense of social responsibility, meanwhile, that same $10K will bring Burton to a school of their choice for an assembly, and early access to the new Reading Rainbow. Lower-dollar perks, naturally, include T-shirts, bumper stickers, and tote bags. Consider those if the idea of meeting LeVar Burton in person might lead you to sit silently in a state of catatonic shock.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.