8.28.2009

Butterfly in the sky...

Butterfly in the sky...
I can fly twice as high...
Take a look,
it's in a book-
Reading Rainboooow!

I can go anywhere...
Friends to know
And ways to grow...
Reading Rainbooow!

I can be anything...
Take a look,
it's in a book-
Reading Rainboooow!
Now, that's gonna be stuck in your head all day. Thank me later.

I have never known a world without Reading Rainbow. It began its run on television less than 6 months before I was born. Tomorrow, the world will be without Reading Rainbow. Listening to that NPR story on the way in to work made me tear up. Sesame Street taught my generation how to read, but Levar Burton on Reading Rainbow taught us to love reading. A love of reading is secondary to knowing the alphabet, for sure, but gets at the heart rather than the head. Literacy creates functioning society members- a love of reading creates lifelong learners.

NPR explained that research is partly to blame for the death of the show:
The decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.

Grant says that PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read — but that's not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do.
...
Linda Simensky, vice president for children's programming at PBS, says that when Reading Rainbow was developed in the early 1980s, it was an era when the question was: "How do we get kids to read books?"

Since then, she explains, research has shown that teaching the mechanics of reading should be the network's priority.

My hope is that learning "the mechanics of reading" won't make kids consider books a solely academic pursuit. Reading Rainbow showed kids enjoying reading, and went beyond the books to get kids thinking and interacting with issues they were seeing on the pages. The books were fun, and the show featured other kids talking about books they like. I'm kind of sad my kids won't ever get to watch a new episode- obviously the old episodes (and books they review) will still be available, but I wonder if the dress and style of the show will feel hokey and be less appealing as time goes on. After today, the show will only exist in the memories of my generation and in home theaters on DVD. And on YouTube, of course.

"But don't take my word for it..."
Reading Rainbow

8 comments:

Matt said...

My kids aren't quite old enough to read to themselves yet, but quite a few of the more current TV shows that do focus on phonics also promote the fun of reading. Blue's Clues and Between the Lions come to mind.

We've been keeping the excitement of reading alive at bedtime by reading the Bone graphic novels out loud and looking at the pictures. Okay, yes, it's a comic book. But it's teaching the kids that books have great stories and it's okay to discover the story gradually over several sittings (unlike movies, which reinforce the instant gratification of getting the whole story at once in 90 minutes).

I hope that our reading time will translate to a sincere desire to read when they get into elementary school.

affectioknit said...

I am so sorry to hear that - We love(d) Reading Rainbow...

The Farmer Files said...

Very sad...my biggest claim to writing fame was that I won a reading rainbow contest in the first grade for something i wrote. Maybe I was in the second grade...hmmmm. I see that television is going toward the mechanics of reading, just watching Noggin/PBS with my kids. But the sad thing is that mechanics alone does not make a reader. Comprehension, application, and analysis make readers. I remember that reading rainbow addressed all of those things. Sad, very sad....

Kacie said...

DANGIT! That stinks. I had Reading Rainbow on the other day. I remembered the episode from when I was a kid. Loved it!

I'm sad that Johnny won't be able to watch. It was a fun show and it helped make reading enjoyable -- which is IMPORTANT! ARG.

Becca said...

I think teaching that love will always come directly from the parents and/or educators. I vaguely remember Reading Rainbow but it was not something we watched regularly. However, I do remember reading with my parents and seeing them read--and now--I still devour books. Love them. All the time.

grantandsara said...

So sad! It seems like education in general, at least for the K-12 set, is increasingly becoming results-obsessed. I don't like it! Thanks for the heads-up...I'm gonna keep my eye out for old Reading Rainbows.

Meg said...

That's so sad - I was one of those kids that was ON Reading Rainbow - I did a Beverly Cleary Ramona book.

Heather said...

I too, am upset to hear that they are ditching it. Aything that isn't researched based just doesn't seem to make the grade these days. This is one of the main things that is destroying the quality of public education.
I love to read and Reading Rainbow was a quality tv show that no one felt guilty about letting their kids watch. It was a great way to discover new and old books...especially for kids who never have anyone take them to a library.

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