If you grew up in the 1980s, "Reading Rainbow" was probably one of your favorite TV shows as a kid. Thanks to host LeVar Burton, the popular show which went off the air in 2009 after a 26-year run, made a comeback as an iPad app two years ago. Since then, it has become the No. 1 educational app and has won numerous awards. But that's not enough, said Burton, since many households still don't have access to tablet devices.
This week, Burton launched a Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign to raise $1 million by July 2 to create a Web-based version of the app, a classroom version for teachers with supplemental instruction materials and provide free access to the program for underfunded schools in need.
In less than 12 hours, the campaign's $1 million goal was fully funded and, just before 1:30 p.m. PT Thursday, had reached more than $2 million, thanks to more than 45,000 backers and growing.
Rewards for supporting the campaign come as small as a "thank you" on the Reading Rainbow website and exclusive behind-the-scenes updates from LeVar and the team for a $5 contribution, to a school assembly at the school of your choice with a private meet and greet for teachers and parents, or a private dinner with LeVar in Los Angeles for a pledge of $10,000 or more.
According to the project's Kickstarter page, one in four children in the U.S. will grow up illiterate, and studies show that children who are unable to read at grade level by the fourth grade are 400% more likely to be high school dropouts. Reading Rainbow has long been a favorite of many households, but especially among African-American and Latino parents trying to teach their children about diversity through books.
Burton recorded a lovely, teary-eyed message on Wednesday for backers to say thanks for helping the campaign reach $1 million. After the initial goal was reached, the campaign was updated to announce new goals will be shared soon to bring the Reading Rainbow program to more platforms and more classrooms for free.
Do you have childhood memories of watching Reading Rainbow or do your kids love it? We want to hear about it!