Reading Rainbow Returns as an iPad App
Like many 20- and 30-something book lovers, my appreciation for reading was nurtured at an early age by the award-winning PBS series, Reading Rainbow. I remember looking forward to the show with my friends, in Mrs. Jones’s second grade class. We knew all the words to the opening theme, and we’d sing along every time the show came on.
Reading Rainbow host and producer LeVar Burton made reading educational and fun for my friends and me, and now he is introducing Reading Rainbow to a whole new generation of kids. Burton has recast the beloved TV show as an app designed especially for the iPad.
The Reading Rainbow app features hundreds of curated books and all new videos presented with the sense of adventure and discovery the series was known for. Aimed at children ages 3 to 9, the app is illustrated with colorful, imaginative scenes similar to those featured in the TV series.
Kids can enjoy books and videos–customized to their ages and interests–read by celebrity actors, including Burton himself. To keep media-savvy kids engaged, the app also features light animations and related activities to enhance the reading experience.
The Reading Rainbow app is constructed around a series of floating islands, organized by subjects, including “My Friends and Family,” “Animal Kingdom,” “Genius Academy” (science and math), and “Action Adventures & Magic Tales.” More subject islands will be added as the app is built out. This interface takes young readers on a journey, much like the original program, and is refreshingly different from the
traditional e-book shelf format.
When little fingers tap on an island, the reader is presented with a sliding list of books on that topic, with “Just for You” recommendations along the top. The app retains the
“field trips” from the TV series with short videos on each subject, featuring children on location, along with Burton himself.
Users can “check out” five books at a time, and then return them, library-style. Books are
stored in a Backpack, which is a customizable digital carrying case.
It would seem that Reading Rainbow has come full circle. Now, my nieces and nephews – who are iPad-savvy even as toddlers – can enjoy the same beloved content I grew up on, but in a new, modern format. Reading Rainbow is available now in the App Store for a $10 per month subscription.