Reading Rainbow's New Website Launched Today (And It's Totally Adorable)
Reading Rainbow is back -- this time, in the form of a subscription-based digital library called Skybrary.
The beloved TV show Reading Rainbow, which debuted in June of 1983, lasted 26 seasons and inspired a generation of kids to find pleasure and excitement in reading. In 2009, when the show finally ended, host LeVar Burton, with his business partner Mark Wolfe and in partnership with WNED-Buffalo, acquired the global rights to continue the Reading Rainbow brand with the intent to build something from the ashes.
Burton’s first try, a Reading Rainbow iPad app, just didn’t have the reach he was looking for because not everyone has an iPad. So he launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in May a year ago to raise the money to produce a web series that could be seen by anyone with a computer and Internet access.
Burton’s campaign raised $6.4 million and, with 105,857 backers, broke the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding platform’s record for number of individuals who contributed to a single campaign. (Since last summer, the Exploding Kittens card game has surpassed Burton’s record of most backers.)
With the money, Burton launched the digital library Skybrary, a website targeting children ages 2 to 9 with a curated digital library of more than 500 children’s books and more than 150 corresponding video “field trips.” The video field trips -- which take children to places like the White House, the Los Angeles Ballet, the Grand Canyon and Cirque du Soleil -- are an extension of the idea that by reading, children can “go anywhere” and “be anything.”
"The importance of developing a passion for the written word can not be overstated -- children who love to read have the greatest tool to reach their highest potential," says Burton, in a statement. "Our determination to encourage the love of reading and learning in every child, everywhere is more steadfast now than ever before."
After a 14-day free trial, Skybrary operates on a subscription model of $9.99 for one month, $29.99 for six months and $49.99 for an entire year.Related: How Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton Is Bringing Storytelling into the Digital Age
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Burton's involvement with the Reading Rainbow brand. Burton and his business partner, in partnership with WNED-Buffalo, acquired the global rights to continue the brand.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.