Friday, August 28, 2009

Reading Rainbow ends

For 26 years, LeVar Burton has opened the pages of great children's books for PBS viewers. Today, the last Reading Rainbow episode will be made. Funders of PBS educational television have decided that showing children how much fun books can be is not as important as teaching them the building blocks of how to read.

I know how to climb but unless I have a reason or desire, I don't see the point in learning advance climbing skills. So it is with reading. Children who want to learn to read will overcome reading disabilities and social or economic disadvantages. Reading Rainbow made children and their parents WANT to read.

Every week, a grown-up man opened a real book and showed children that reading was more than deciphering letters to make words. Reading was telling stories and learning things. "Books are important", LeVar said, week after week. "Books are fun and books can lead us to other fascinating things." And then, a bunch of children said the same thing. They said, "We read. Reading is something that children do for fun and for learning. You can, too."

The Parkland Community Library has Reading Rainbow DVDs. Children can still see LeVar get excited about hats and camels and numbers. But now, no new books will get star treatment. Oh well.

So check out a Reading Rainbow DVD this week. Take home a new book. Take on the job of showing your children and your friends that books are important. Reading can lead us to fascinating things. And take a moment to thank LeVar Burton and PBS for 26 years of reading rainbows.

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