Friday, August 28, 2009

The End of Reading Rainbow

Twenty-six years ago PBS launched a television show about why it's fun to read. It was hosted by LeVar Burton, where he would take kids on an adventure that was inspired by a selected book. Then, at the end of the show, different kids would recommend books to the audience, giving their own mini-reviews. This show was called Reading Rainbow.

Odds are, if you've grown up within the past twenty-six years and you went to a public American school, then you've probably watched this show at some point. I can vividly remember watching it in 3rd grade, enthralled at the world before me. Even back then I had a love for books. Ms Harrison would sit us all in a circle and read to us, titles like Sideways Stories from Wayside School, My Teacher is an Alien, and The Indian in the Cupboard. Then we would watch Reading Rainbow.

Part of the reason I love reading can be attributed to this show. My mom and mamaw both read a lot, and this also contributed to my passion for books. (It's odd, though, how mamaw and mom and I all have completely different tastes in the books we choose.)

Unfortunately, I heard on NPR this morning that Reading Rainbow is coming to an end today. You can read the article here. The reason the show is ending is rather interesting. Studies find that shows that teach kids how to read is more important than shows that teach kids why they should read. While I completely agree that knowing how to read is probably more important for life production, shouldn't a desire to read for pleasure be cultivated, too, though? Why not augment shows like Reading Rainbow with a section that is more devoted to instructing phonics, while still carrying on the love of a great book?

All in all, the end of Reading Rainbow is not really a surprise. The real surprise is shows like this are actually still on the air. Remember back when cartoons were cartoons, like The Flinstones, Scooby-Doo, and Loony Toons? Then shows shifted to shows like Rocco's Modern Life (which I loved), Ren & Stimpy (which I hated), and Doug (it was okay). Now we're stuck with Sponge-Bob and a million shows that aren't cartoons but real world (iCarly, Suite Life, etc.). Yes, I'm surprised that Reading Rainbow has lasted this long in our ADD-stricken world. I'm really surprised that PBS has lasted this long, come to think of it...

Say goodbye to an era gone, folks. And if you did watch the show growing up, keep it in mind when you're reading tonight, thinking back to sweeter and simpler times. I'll leave you with the amazingly addictive theme song.

Song Lyric: "Sometimes I wish the sun didn't come out at all, just the good days."--Joe Purdy, Good Days

1 comment:

Krista said...

Oh, my, goodness! I remember watching this back in elementary school! It was a fun show! I'm sorry to see it go.... Cool post!

Also there's another award for you on my blog, ha, ha! LOL! Yes, because you are so AWESOME!

I will also be replying to your comment under Lamentation, so be sure to read it to! LOL! Thanks!