'Reading Rainbow' Is Coming Back Thanks to Kickstarter

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Take a look! It's in a book! A reading rainbooooow.

Talk about a theme song steeped in nostalgia. Takes you back, right? (C'mon: A butterfly in the sky! I can go twice as high!)

Hosted by LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow debuted on PBS in June of 1983 and ran for 26 years. The show encouraged kids to read by recommending books and exploring literary themes. It worked (for this kid, anyway) and so when PBS finally pulled the show from its lineup in 2009, Burton bought the rights to the brand; he felt there was still more he could do with the material.

Related: Actor LeVar Burton on Relaunching Reading Rainbow as a Mobile App

Two years ago, Burton launched a 'Reading Rainbow' iPad app but he hasn't been satisfied with its reach. Not everyone has an iPad, after all, and he wanted 'Reading Rainbow' to be more accessible. So he turned to Kickstarter to raise money for a web version.

Launched yesterday, the campaign reached its $1 million goal in a matter of hours. At the time of this writing, Burton has raised nearly $1.7 million, and he still has 34 days to go. Clearly, the project has struck a chord with the public.

The goal, outlined on the project's Kickstarter page, is three-pronged: Build a program that brings Reading Rainbow's digital collection of hundreds of books, video and fieldtrips to the web in an interactive format, build a version meant for teachers to use in classrooms that includes teachers guides, leveling and dashboards and lastly, provide that version to as many low-income schools as possible for free (with the initial $1 million, Burton says over 1,5000 classrooms should receive the program at no cost).

"The point of the television show was to feature children's literature, quality children's literature, that revealed to them the width and breadth of the world in a variety of ways and then connect that literature to real world experience," Burton told Entrepreneur.com last summer. "My role was taking kids on an adventure that is life through literature."

Related: Report: U.S. Adults Lag Behind International Peers in Literacy, Math and Tech Skills

The intention of the web series remains the same; only the medium has been updated. "Of course, when Reading Rainbow began in 1983, we were using television to bring books to kids, meeting them where they wanted to be," Burton wrote on the project's Kickstarter page. "In 2014, TV is not that place anymore. Now, we’re trying to reach a new generation of digital natives."

Watch the full Kickstarter video here.


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