Friday, August 28, 2009

In The News: Farewell To Reading Rainbow

You know it's an end of an era when something that you cherished as a child finally ends. Today is the final day of Reading Rainbow on PBS. The show ran for 26 years, and due to financial problems and a change in the philosophy behind PBS children's programming Reading Rainbow will fade into history.

I grew up a PBS kid. I remember watching Sesame Street, Mister Rogers Neighborhood and Reading Rainbow, probably in its very first years on television. One of the episodes I remember vividly was where they read "Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People's Ears." The distinctive African cover art from that book was emblazoned in my mind and I've never forgotten it.

One of the things that I loved about Reading Rainbow, and part of the reason why Rainbow has fallen out of favor with PBS is because it instills kids (and adults alike) with something that no other show can, the joy and love of reading. Recently I attended a training workshop on early childhood literacy and one of the primary categories relevant to early literacy skill building is "print motivation." When we read stories to children that they love it increases the likelihood that they'll want to read more and more. That's why children love to read the same book over and over, and why they crave series with characters that they recognize. Reading Rainbow took that extra step by including book reviews by children for children sharing the titles of books that they loved. I can't tell you how many times I picked up a book because someone else told me it was good (I still do that). And when it comes from someone your own age, even better.

But don't take my word for it... We have a huge selection of the Reading Rainbow video series here at Watha T. Daniel Library. Get the video that goes along with one of the books you're reading with your child and read along with the show. Or get a copy of one that you may remember from your younger days and relive your childhood.

Now to find LeVar Burton and ask him where he found the fountain of youth.

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