We report a lot of different stories here at GFR; some make us happy, and some don’t. But it’s rare that we get to write about something that makes me as happy as this week’s hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to resurrect Reading Rainbow. If you haven’t been near the internet in several days, LeVar Burton took to the popular crowdfunding site Wednesday to launch a campaign to resurrect Reading Rainbow on the web, and for free in classrooms across the country. They hit their goal of a million dollars before the day was even through, resulting in the following emotional thank-you video from Burton recorded as it happened. (And if it doesn’t choke you up a little, you’re a monster.)
In the ensuing time, the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter has charged even higher, sitting at just over $3 million as I write this. And if you know anything about Kickstarter, you know that means the campaign is now into the realm of “stretch goals” — higher targets that will allow them to expand their original plans in even more ambitious ways. Right now the next target is $5 million, which will allow them to bring the new Reading Rainbow into 7,500 classrooms (up from the initial 1,500), as well as expanding to phones and gaming consoles as well. That’s a brilliant way to get it in front of even more kids. The easier you make accessing the Reading Rainbow material, the more people it can help. I can see it making a natural pairing with, say, Microsoft’s voice/motion-sensing Kinect tech on the Xbox. Burton says the $5 million stretch goal will let them bring Reading Rainbow to mobile devices, consoles, and set-top streaming devices such as Apple TV.
I’ve already made my pledge to this new life for Reading Rainbow, and I encourage you to as well. The show was such a cherished part of my childhood, it puts a big stupid grin on my face to see it getting such love in its hour of need. And hey, if you require more palpable rewards for doing a good deed than “knowing you helped a bunch of kids learn to love reading,” then there are always the Kickstarter rewards, which range from behind-the-scenes updates, all the way up to dinner with Burton in Los Angeles and the chance to wear Geordi’s Next Generation visor. Nerd palpitations are happening!
The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign still had 32 days to go. There’s no telling how much they’ll have raised by that time, but I’m betting it’s going to carry them a lot more than “twice as high.”