Reading Rainbow, a 26-year stalwart on PBS, came to an end last week. NPR ran a fitting obituary citing the cause of Reading Rainbow's demise:
"The series resonates with so many people," says John Grant, who is in charge of content at WNED Buffalo, Reading Rainbow's home station...The Department of Education wants children's television to focus on a noble and worthy purpose--how to read. Yet there are numerous children's shows on television that already do this--Sesame Street, Blues Clues, Wordworld, etc.
Grant says the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.
Reading Rainbow focused on fostering a love of reading--why kids should read. It had found its niche purpose. This was evident from the show's fanciful title sequence and imaginative opening song. (See video above.)
Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high,Try getting that song out of your head. Three of Loome's staff members were born the same year Reading Rainbow debuted on the air. We grew up with the adventures of host LeVar Burton and book reviews given by bibliophilic children.
Take a look, it's in a book — Reading Rainbow ...
We must trust the love of reading will come just as naturally without LeVar Burton to guide the way, but it's a shame to say farewell to a show that fostered that nascent love in children. As Scout Finch, the heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird said, "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read."