After 15 years off the air, Reading Rainbow is being revived!
"Utilizing all that modern technology has to offer and designed for a new generation of children, Reading Rainbow Live will do what the original program could not—invite viewers into the screen to interact with each other and the program's hosts," a news release explains. "The result will be a fresh and fun environment with the feel of a playroom, where children will have an opportunity to learn and grow together through reading, music, and dance."
Reading Rainbow Live, an updated version of the PBS classic featuring multiple hosts, will launch in 2022.
The 25-minute episodes will feature "original music, dance parties, field trips, cultural explorations, investigations of the natural world—and of course, the book of the day." Unlike the original starring LeVar Burton, this live version will be hosted by a diverse cast of performers known as "The Rainbows." And thanks to an interactive virtual platform, viewers will have the chance to engage, play games, and even have an opportunity to be featured "on stage" during each episode.
"The impact of Reading Rainbow on literacy and an entire generation of children cannot be underestimated," Tom Calderone, President & CEO of Buffalo Toronto Public Media (WNED PBS), said in a statement. "Because of that, we have been very careful about how we reimagine the future of Reading Rainbow, and we're delighted to have found partners to help us bring the powerful mission—and entertainment—of Reading Rainbow to a live event for kids no matter where they are."
Reading Rainbow Live is the brainchild of Executive Producer Steven Beer. He came up with the idea for a new take on the classic show in early 2021, when worried parents were looking for new ways to educate their young children during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
"The COVID quarantine presented challenges for parents with young children in particular," Beer explained. "Without playgrounds, play groups or early childhood programs, many parents struggled to keep their kids engaged in learning activities. Reading Rainbow Live was developed as a 'life-saver' response to this challenge."
Launched in 1983, Reading Rainbow was beloved by parents, children, and educators alike. Hosted by Burton for more than 20 years, the series garnered more than 250 awards—including a prestigious Peabody—nine Parents' Choice awards, and 26 Emmys.
Additional launch, casting, and creative details regarding Reading Rainbow Live will be announced in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, y'all!