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Reading Rainbow

TV review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Reading Rainbow TV Poster Image
Encouraging kids to read, one book at a time.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 3+
Based on 12 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Compassionate curiosity with an emphasis on diversity is the bread and butter of this program.

Positive Role Models & Representations

LeVar Burton explores a wide range of social topics and demonstrates strong communication skills and curiosity. The kids who talk about their favorite books make a love of reading relatable and inspirational.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Reading Rainbow, which encourages kids to read, has been on for more than 20 years. Critics at first thought it was counter-intuitive to emphasize reading books on television. But this program makes story time rich and interesting. Along with stories narrated by renowned actors, documentary-style investigations explore everything from locomotives to city markets to slavery.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySonia Montejano April 9, 2008

A classic-- best ever!

Ever since I was a child watching this show I've loved it-- me and my friends can still sing the theme song even though we're in college. Great, class... Continue reading
Parent Written byhools June 16, 2010

Excellent for older preschoolers

We've borrowed a number of these on DVD from our local library. Each episode is about a different them, and has several components introducing the young v... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 19, 2015
Good for little ones learning to read, bad for 8+.
Teen, 13 years old Written byLaChaton April 9, 2008

(just read)

This is a great show. I use to LOVE it. It's all about books (which i refer to as my "truest luffies" and everyone knows that I mean books). Read... Continue reading

What's the story?

READING RAINBOW has been introducing books to kids since the early '80s. The series "promotes reading as a way children can sample the world around them." Host and executive producer LeVar Burton explores a wide range of social topics, including the United Nations' children's initiatives, holidays celebrated by other cultures, and worker's rights. By using the combination of a documentary magazine-style format and the wonderful illustrated books that populate the show's shelves, Burton manages to open young minds to the world.

Is it any good?

Kids of all colors, races, and ethnicities speak about their favorite books for a period during each program. It's a treat to watch the kids speak on their subjects. They run the gamut: self-confident, nervous, passionate, awkward, graceful, and eloquent. Hearing kids speak this passionately about books that they love is inspirational. It all adds up to a gentle, diverse, and effective educational program that can be enjoyed by all kids -- and their parents.

Many people know Burton from the series Star Trek: The Next Generation, on which he had the key role of Geordi La Forge. Others might recognize him from his gut-wrenching performance in the television adaptation of Roots. But the imprint that Burton has made on a generation of readers through Reading Rainbow is arguably his most important project to date.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different subjects of each episode. The featured books and investigations can make great starting points for Internet research or a trip to the library.

  • What do kids enjoy about story time? Did you watch this program when you were younger? Does this show make your kids want to read more? Why is reading so important?

  • How do LeVar Burton and the kids on Reading Rainbow demonstrate curiosity and communication? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love reading

Our editors recommend

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