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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Fife

ReadingMagic -Was there something else that ever got you excited about reading? Day 15 #readingmagic

Look! I made it halfway in my 30 day challenge!

I can guarantee there are millions of other kids who would answer this question the same as me - Levar Burton. I don't know when I first saw Reading Rainbow, but

I can tell you when I first saw Levar Burton. It was watching the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation with my family in September of 1987. By that time, he had already played Kunta Kinte in Roots (where recently deceased Cecily Tyson played his first "TV Mom." And he had already been hosting Reading Rainbow for 4 years.

I'm pretty sure I didn't discover it until after I knew him as Geordi La Forge. But I remember the "Butterfly in the Sky" theme for Reading Rainbow almost as well as I remember the Star Trek Theme. Levar Burton talked to kids about books for kids, but I never felt talked down to. And that was something I was very sensitive to as a kid. By the time I was 11 if someone called me a little boy I wanted to tear their vocal chords out with my little boy bare hands. Levar just talked with you like you were there. And read with you.

I didn't ever watch Reading Rainbow as religiously as I did Star Trek, but I also have no idea how many times I did watch it. I don't remember many specifics, but I do remember one book introduced to me from the show.

If I recall correctly, the show had some kind of overarching theme, guest spots of real kids reviewing their favorite new books they'd discovered & Levar reading a whole kids book of similar length to The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash. I definitely remember him reading this delightfully absurd book. Trinka Hakes Noble & Steven Kellogg did a superb job writing the book. But who doesn't love being read to? And who can do it as well as Levar Burton?

Dumbest move PBS ever made - Cancelling Reading Rainbow in favor of shows that focus on teaching kids "phonics." Dude. Read a freakin' book with kids. Have them read it to you. They'll figure out what letters make what sounds eventually. I've got 5 kids who've learned to read that way and #6 will too. Teach them to love reading like Reading Rainbow did and the mechanics of language will work themselves out.

But you don't have to take my word for it...

But seriously, Levar: Thank you SO MUCH from me & the other millions of kids you taught to love books. You've been a great example & are still my hero. I hope my book reading can inspire kids just like you have.

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