The last new episode of Reading Rainbow aired today, marking the end of the 26-year-old PBS series hosted by everyone's favorite well-read host, LeVar Burton. Like its contemporaries, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow was equal parts educational and fun, addressing its young viewers in the playful, respectful, and encouraging tone PBS is known for.
More importantly, Reading Rainbow got kids excited about reading, about telling stories, and making their own as they followed LeVar on his exploratory adventures each episode. As John Grant, head of Reading Rainbow's home station tells NPR , 'Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read,' Grant says. 'You know, the love of reading--[the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read.'
According to NPR , the PBS network wants to shift its programming to fit childrens' literacy needs, which are becoming increasingly technical. In other words, kids less encouragement to pick up a book, and more help developing the grammar and phonics skills needed for them to read the book of their choice. Hence, PBS is bringing in shows like WordGirl, which, apart from being awesome (yes, I've watched it. It's darn cute and legimitately funny), sneaks fancy vocabularly lessons underneath fresh animation and quirky characters.
As for Reading Rainbow, there will probably be reruns, and the collective memories of a generation won't soon let the show (nor it's jazzy pop theme song) fade into the past. Reminisce on the show's website, and remember why we love LeVar so much in the clips after the jump!
But don't take my word for it!