Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high! Take a look, It’s in a book, A Reading Rainbow! Ask anyone from our generation and these song lyrics can stir all sorts of memories! For me it was growing up as a young kid without cable in the western New England. My grandmother had a console TV and one of the local stations was PBS. I knew of Sesame Street, and Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood, but my favorite was Reading Rainbow hosted by LeVar Burton. Ask around and I bet at least half of your office can recite the lyrics and tell you their own story of how they used to watch Reading Rainbow as a kid. The show has long since been cancelled, but there is a bright new future on the horizon for Reading Rainbow!
It’s no secret that we have drastically changed how we consume our media. Books, television, movies,, we are no longer tied down to traditional media formats. We have the ability to watch and read on phones, tables, televisions, and lost of other devices. It only seems natural that Reading Rainbow would evolve to fit into this viewing format as well.
Reading Rainbow has been available on iPad and Android tablets for quite a while now, but recently LeVar Burton decided to start a kickstarted campaign to bring it to the next level. His goal is to bring Reading Rainbow to the masses! With our focus as a society on so many things, it’s easy to understand why our literacy rates have drastically dropped over the years. LeVar has made it his personal goal to bring Reading Rainbow back to as many classrooms as possible. His kickstarter campaign aimed to raise one million dollars to help bring a web-based Reading Rainbow program for FREE to needy schools. He met his goal in less than 12 hours! He could have stopped there, but kept pushing… He bumped up the goal to five million dollars which would exponentially increase the number of schools he could help. One surprising benefactor offered to help match up to one million dollars for LeVar and Reading Rainbow reach his stretch goal. Seth McFarland of Family Guy has chipped in one million bucks to make this rather loft goal a reality!
Just a quick note on the fund-raising. The kickstarted campaign is over, but you can still contribute if you would like. I’ll post the link below. The fundraising video is worth watching. It’s pretty funny (make sure you watch it all the way until the end), and LeVar Burton is willing to do just about anything for a donation. It goes to show you his level of dedication. Way to go LeVar!
This is great for schools, but how can you experience the new Reading Rainbow for you and your child? Download the app of course! I had an opportunity to check out the iPad app and wanted to spread the word on how you can re-live the Reading Rainbow Experience with you children. Just search for “Reading Rainbow” in the app store and download. The app itself is FREE. Once downloaded, it was just a matter of opening the app and I was presented with a few quick questions about my little guy. Nothing too specific but the app uses your kid’s name, sex, interests, and age for various reasons. The age in particular is used to recommend age appropriate books and sex is sued to create a virtual reading buddy.
There is a quick video that explains the overall concept, but in a nutshell, you have different “islands” to choose from based on the category of book you want to read. Options are available such as read to me, and read along. Many of the books have interactive features that help bring the book alive. I won’t ruin the surprises for your little ones, but it’s pretty cool! The app itself is rather intuitive, and is easy to understand. My two-year old has figured out the PBS Kids app, and suspect he’ll figure out the Reading Rainbow app in no time at all.
So this is just an enriched e-book reader? Nope! Remember the video field trips from the Reading Rainbow show? They are available through the app as well! RRKids, the company reviving Reading Rainbow really spent some time to program some really useful features. For example, you can have multiple children setup in the app in you have more than one, and you as a parent can check on their reading progress and statistics. If Mom and Dad are looking for a specific book, you can search by name or author instead of going through the island interface.
So is there a catch? Not so much a catch, as a subscription charge. Wait, wait, don’t close out the browser window just yet, hear me out.. The App itself is FREE and you get the chance to download up to 5 books for FREE and checkout a small selection of the video field trips. Not too bad in my opinion, because if you compare the cost of interactive children’s books in iBooks or even the Barnes and Noble or Kindle Markets, you’ll see this can be an incredible value, even if you never subscribe to the service. If you choose to set up a subscription, you can choose to pay $9.99 a month, or $29.99 for 6 months. This gives your child unlimited access to books and video field trips. Each of these in app purchases are recurring, but the 6 month subscription is a bit of a no brainer with this one.. On the iPad versions, I would recommend you turn off in store app purchases or your little ones may subscribe without your approval. This is pretty sound advice for any family with little ones.
Overall, I’m impressed with the new Reading Rainbow reading program! It’s cross-platform compatible, so you don’t need to have an expensive iPad, and lets face it, the subscription fess are really not too much at all. The price is cheaper than Hulu or Netflix if you use the 6 month deal, and this is truly an educational tool that will help your child improve vocabulary, reading comprehension, and help get them excited about reading! We considered purchasing a Nook tablet for our little guy, just for the awesome selection of enriched children’s books, but the Reading Rainbow app is much cheaper because you don’t need to pay per book, and again the Reading Rainbow app will run on almost any android or iPad tablet and other connected gizmos, but you don’t have to take my word for it!
Reading Rainbow Details:
|App Cost:||1 Month Subscription||6 Month Subscription|