By Joly Herman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Encouraging kids to read, one book at a time.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Compassionate curiosity with an emphasis on diversity is the bread and butter of this program.
Positive Role Models
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.
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.
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Based on 5 parent reviews
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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?
- Premiere date: June 6, 1983
- Cast: LeVar Burton
- Network: PBS
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Book Characters, Numbers and Letters
- Character Strengths: Communication, Curiosity
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Last updated: April 1, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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