But you don't have to take my word for it.
August 28, 2009 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Whether you grew up checking out books like Louis the Fish and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie from the library every week, or you just know Steve Horlick's iconic theme song, you're probably familiar with Reading Rainbow, which ends its 26-year run today.

Funding has dried up to renew the show's broadcast rights due, in part, to a sea change in the philosophy of teaching reading on television: while Reading Rainbow promoted the idea of reading, some educators today would prefer that programming focus on the mechanics of reading. Others, though, say that the place for such instruction is in the classroom.

And although host LeVar Burton left the show in 2007, citing philosophical differences with the program's new owners, Educate, Inc., parent company of Sylvan Learning Centers and Hooked on Phonics, he hints that he's working on adult-targeted webisodes of a similar program.

Episodes of Reading Rainbow will still be available for the home and classroom, and there are plans to expand the Young Writers and Illustrators Contest (previously on MetaFilter).
posted by uncleozzy (67 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by TBAcceptor at 6:04 AM on August 28, 2009


Whoah, this show was still going on? and LeVar was still doing it up until 2007? Man!

That philisophical differences link doesn't offer much... what exactly were these differences? (not that I can't imagine several possibilities).
posted by molecicco at 6:09 AM on August 28, 2009


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posted by armage at 6:09 AM on August 28, 2009


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What a collection of awesome memories I have from that show. It didn't hurt that I was, as a child, a huge Trekkie, and so loved Levar Burton as Geordie on TNG. This makes me sad in oh so many ways.
posted by po at 6:09 AM on August 28, 2009


what exactly were these differences? (not that I can't imagine several possibilities)

I couldn't find anything more substantial, unfortunately. Maybe somebody else can. But yeah, I can take a few wild guesses, most of which are not particularly complimentary toward the new backers.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:13 AM on August 28, 2009


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posted by Liver at 6:18 AM on August 28, 2009


An adult Reading Rainbow? Head to head competition with Oprah's Book Club?
posted by DU at 6:21 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This makes me really sad, as Reading Rainbow really shaped my life in significant ways. I've already explained how here, so I won't repeat myself.

This sucks. This is like Sesame Street ending for me, or a smaller echo of when Mr. Roger's died. I am literally seeing a part of my childhood disappear.
posted by piratebowling at 6:29 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


My favorite episode ever of Reading Rainbow, besides the one where LeVar goes behind the scenes of ST:TNG, was the one where Lily Tomlin reads Miss Nelson is Back. I remember that story gave me one of those hysterical kinds of little kid gigglefits that don't stop for hours. I haven't read the book in ages, but I know I wouldn't be able to do so and not hear her voice. (I also see it was one of the earliest episodes in the series and man, I feel so old now...)
posted by Spatch at 6:30 AM on August 28, 2009


Goodbye, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood...
Goodbye, Sesame Street from when Elmo was a relatively minor character...
Goodbye, Reading Rainbow...
Goodbye, last vestiges of childhood television...
posted by honeybee413 at 6:32 AM on August 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh, man. Reading Rainbow was pretty much the foundation of my childhood, along with Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street, but I watched Reading Rainbow for a long time after I'd outgrown the other two shows. Even as an adult, if I'm flipping through the channels and see an episode I remembered, I might stop for a minute and watch, and the show is probably one of the biggest reasons why I'm still a voracious reader today.

Right now flashes of so many great episodes are flashing through my mind--Conan the Librarian! Moondance Diner/NYC at night! Cats (the musical--I was Grizabella for Halloween that year...)!

Complete Episode List ...oh, the memories. So many of even the very earliest episodes are still familiar, even now.

I'm curious to see what LeVar might do with this "grown-up" version. Will we be able to submit our own mini book reviews on YouTube? ;)
posted by miratime at 6:35 AM on August 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


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The hat episode, where he puts on different hats and ends up in different places, was always my favorite. But Reading Rainbow introduced me to so many different books ... and I always *loved* the author/illustrator contest.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:38 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by tilde at 6:39 AM on August 28, 2009


There is certainly still a place for a show that turns kids on to the power of reading, even while they create shows that teach the fundamentals of reading. There probably is more than just money behind not renewing the rights, but after such an outstanding run--becoming an institution, really--maybe no one has the energy to keep it going anymore? But not-so-subtly blaming Bush for the loss of funding was kind of weak.
posted by njbradburn at 6:42 AM on August 28, 2009


Yeah, there's no doubt in my mind that I'm the reader I am in part because of Reading Rainbow. I really would go to the library every week with a list of books I'd seen on the show. Now I go to the library with a list of books from AskMe.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:42 AM on August 28, 2009


But yeah, I can take a few wild guesses, most of which are not particularly complimentary toward the new backers.

The NPR segment that I heard this morning said that the philosophical differences were that the Bush administration was pushing stations to do programs that focused more on basic literacy skills -- phonics, learning the letters of the alphabet, vocabulary, etc -- whereas reading Rainbow was more about encouraging kids to read once they'd mastered these basics. The argument was that a lot of kids, particularly kids from poor or working class families, are hitting school without exposure to the basics and thus, spend a long time struggling to get to the level of kids who have had exposure.

I can't speak to the science, but it really doesn't sound that sinister.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:43 AM on August 28, 2009


This makes me so incredibly sad. Not only did I grow up watching RR, it was the perfect thing to watch when I was home sick once I was older. Being read to is the best.

(I pretty much graduated straight from Reading Rainbow to Star Trek: TNG. If I ever meet LeVar Burton, I really just want to give him a big hug.)
posted by kalimac at 6:49 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm curious to see what LeVar might do with this "grown-up" version.
posted by erniepan at 6:55 AM on August 28, 2009


Aw, this sucks. I loved that show deeply, and often as a kid I'd fantasize that they'd ask me to be one of their kid reviewers at the end. I'd spend hours going through my collection, figuring out which one I would select and what I'd say about it.

Hell, if asked I could still sing the entire theme song right here, and I haven't even been drinking!

Butterfly in the skyyyyyy, I can go twice as hiiiiiiigh....

Sniff.
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:57 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by juliplease at 6:59 AM on August 28, 2009


Reading Rainbow and Mr. Rogers were my two favorites. This is a very sad day.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:01 AM on August 28, 2009


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posted by jquinby at 7:07 AM on August 28, 2009


My kids loved Reading Rainbow, my wife and I loved that Geordi LaForge was hosting it. We all loved Wishbone, too, which is now in the "gone but not forgotten" category.

If you have children, enjoy their childhood while you can. Because one day you're watching Reading Rainbow with them, the next you're dropping them off at college.
posted by tommasz at 7:20 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Take a look, it's in a book, Reading Rainbow!

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posted by shmurley at 7:21 AM on August 28, 2009


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

One of my neighbors started feeding the mice in the empty loft below his, and kept it up for a year, creating an infestation that took over an entire block. That's when, regrettably, mice got added to my short list, along with cockroaches and mosquitoes.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:23 AM on August 28, 2009


Goodbye, last vestiges of childhood television...

Not my childhood - my children's childhood. They loved RR. When I read them books like "Three by the Sea" or "Arthur's Eyes," I couldn't deviate from the inflections of the voices that they'd heard on the show. I got so I did a pretty good Bill Cosby.
posted by tizzie at 7:23 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's probably been a decade and a half, at least, since I or any of my friends have seen this show, but sometimes when we reach a conversational cadence, I toss in the "dun nuh DUN!" stinger that ended all of the kids' books reviews from this show. Without fail, most of the room immediately gets the reference and smiles.

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posted by SpiffyRob at 7:26 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Iridic at 7:35 AM on August 28, 2009


Man, I too remember the hats episode, the episode where it's his birthday and gets sawed in half by Blackstone (?), where he goes camping and makes apricot stew and when he goes behind the scenes at TNG (the swirling glitter!). Once, when I was in kindergarden or so I was at the library and was asked by a local news crew to do an interview about why I enjoyed going to the library. Some sort of fluff piece. I had some books in my hands, and did an impromptu Reading Rainbow style book review. My segment never got aired.

I also miss Square One and 3-2-1 Contact. These three shows were an absolute must for a quality afternoon of television.
posted by lizjohn at 7:44 AM on August 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Because of this show I will never be able to hear the phrase "take my word for it" without thinking "dun nuh DUN!"

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posted by shammack at 8:11 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of my neighbors started feeding the mice in the empty loft below his, and kept it up for a year, creating an infestation that took over an entire block. That's when, regrettably, mice got added to my short list, along with cockroaches and mosquitoes.

Did the mice ask for glasses of milk?
posted by papercake at 8:16 AM on August 28, 2009



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Here's the theme song and video that we remember. [youtube]
posted by fizzix at 8:28 AM on August 28, 2009


I'm curious to see what LeVar might do with this "grown-up" version.

Reading Rainbow: The Next Generation

posted by ALongDecember at 8:40 AM on August 28, 2009


The NPR segment that I heard this morning said that the philosophical differences were that the Bush administration was pushing stations to do programs that focused more on basic literacy skills -- phonics, learning the letters of the alphabet, vocabulary, etc -- whereas reading Rainbow was more about encouraging kids to read once they'd mastered these basics. The argument was that a lot of kids, particularly kids from poor or working class families, are hitting school without exposure to the basics and thus, spend a long time struggling to get to the level of kids who have had exposure.

I can't speak to the science, but it really doesn't sound that sinister.


except that one of the things many kids (not just from 'working class' families) are missing is seeing their parents read and being read to: watching basic literary skills on TV if you've never really read or been read to is like watching a TV show on car repair without having seen a car or known how much fun it could be to have one. and of course, if school is also on the phonics every day, all the time, bandwagon then where are you?

except that the Bus administration standards were being driven by people with direct interest in educational materials (OpenCourt, McGraw Hill, etc...) companies that were going to be selling the government the mandated phonics instruction books and the training to go with them. like everything else in the bush administration, in the end, the push for phonics-and-only-phonics came down to diverting public money into private hands.

i can't tell you have maddening it is to work in a public school system starved for funds and then to watch $30,000 get spent like it's nothing on OpenCourt (tm) phonemic awareness training (for teachers) not to mention what was spent on the phonemic awareness books themselves: revised dick and jane with bizzare word choices directed by the theory... when elementary school teachers have to bring in their own books for students to read if they are lucky enough to have learned.

it's about making learning to read just like every other corporate training exercise directed by management science...
posted by geos at 8:50 AM on August 28, 2009 [13 favorites]


The NPR segment that I heard this morning said that the philosophical differences were that the Bush administration was pushing stations to do programs that focused more on basic literacy skills -- phonics, learning the letters of the alphabet, vocabulary, etc -- whereas reading Rainbow was more about encouraging kids to read once they'd mastered these basics. The argument was that a lot of kids, particularly kids from poor or working class families, are hitting school without exposure to the basics and thus, spend a long time struggling to get to the level of kids who have had exposure.

I can't speak to the science, but it really doesn't sound that sinister.


I don't know. That sounds sort of awful to me. One of the sources of problems with reading in poor and working class families is that they don't grow up in a culture of books--they don't have parents who read for pleasure, no one reads to them, they have no conception of reading as something that can possibly be fun. "Literacy skills" are good and all, but learning them in a way that's divorced from the pleasures of reading (or, say, the pleasures of music, which is Sesame Street's route) makes reading seem even more like work.

I remember watching Reading Rainbow before I could read on my own--it made me want to drag my mother to the library to just pour over the pictures of the books the older kids would recommend. And I came from a pretty literate family.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:53 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also:

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posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:53 AM on August 28, 2009


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posted by dipping_sauce at 9:00 AM on August 28, 2009


This show has been on TV as long as I've been alive, and I watched it religiously as a little kid. I'm sad to see it go off the air. (And I can't imagine how a show about phonics could be as much fun to watch.)

My favorite Reading Rainbow book/episode was "Watch the Stars Come Out". They go to Ellis Island and talk about people who immigrated to the US. My grandma came over on a boat from Italy when she was a little girl and I was excited that they were talking about something that happened in my family.

I loved LeVar Burton so much as a little kid that he invaded my dreams. My earliest memory of a dream was being trapped in a dimly lit supermarket with him. We were being chased by a piece of killer liver that would eat you if it saw you moving. So...yeah.
posted by Tesseractive at 9:01 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by gurple at 9:17 AM on August 28, 2009


Anyone else love the goat eating everything episode? Those goats were crazy!

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posted by k8t at 9:20 AM on August 28, 2009


The idea of an adult Reading Rainbow really, really excites me, though I'm sure Levar won't get the rights to the name.

I'm picturing each episode having one or two long interviews with writers, followed by audience-submitted reviews. And each review would end with that "ta-da-da!" Furthermore, I'm picturing that when Reading Rainbow books come out in softcover, they'd have little rainbow stickers on them. What writer wouldn't love that endorsement?
posted by roll truck roll at 9:22 AM on August 28, 2009


My neighborhood used bookstore stocks (nearly exclusively) books from the Reading Rainbow '80s era. I don't see these books very often in Borders and I eagerly buy them up!
posted by k8t at 9:25 AM on August 28, 2009


Anyone know of a list of all the featured books from back in the day?
posted by k8t at 9:27 AM on August 28, 2009


My favorite episode was the Star Trek: TNG + Reading Rainbow crossover, where they showed how they made the little transporter effect by stirring some kind of glitter in a glass of water. RIP Reading Rainbow.
posted by JDHarper at 9:28 AM on August 28, 2009


k8t: Here you go.
posted by JDHarper at 9:30 AM on August 28, 2009


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I can no longer fly twice as high.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:32 AM on August 28, 2009


Michael Dorn, in full Worf makeup, slams out of his trailer. "Stand Aside - I Take Large Steps."

I kind of kept a distant eye on the show after the mid-2000's mini-revival. They were not shy about the topics in later years:

"12/15/04: Alfre Woodard reads Visiting Day, a tale about a young girl preparing to visit her father in jail on his birthday, and how she and her grandmother get ready for the trip to the prison. Afterwards, LeVar visits a real family planning to see their father and husband in jail as he finishes his prison term for shooting at a man during an argument, and how they have to cope with the social stigma of having to explain an ex-convict. "

(And then the next two episodes featured Eliza Dushku and Wayne Brady, neither of whom read about ex-cons.)
posted by ormondsacker at 9:34 AM on August 28, 2009


It was an amazing show for a kid already obsessed with reading. Then 200X came and the show's references and music started being glaringly dated. Which made it amazinger. Run DMC, anyone?
posted by spamguy at 9:42 AM on August 28, 2009


One of the sources of problems with reading in poor and working class families is that they don't grow up in a culture of books--they don't have parents who read for pleasure, no one reads to them, they have no conception of reading as something that can possibly be fun. "Literacy skills" are good and all, but learning them in a way that's divorced from the pleasures of reading (or, say, the pleasures of music, which is Sesame Street's route) makes reading seem even more like work.

When I was working in a Title I reading lab some years ago, we used to do a lot of home visitations as part of the program. (We had a very holistic approach to our specific grant.) One of the things we always looked for while we were in the home were the presence of books, or most of the time, the lack thereof. Our grant was structured such that we actually had funds to purchase books and give them to participants in the reading lab. More than once, parents would appear back at the school with the book trying to return it, insisting their child had brought it home by accident (or even stolen it -- many were VERY embarrassed at the idea). We had to work hard to convince many of them that the books were, in fact, for the child to keep.

We had more than one very poor migrant family mother just burst into tears during these conversations. Often the shame of not being able to provide such things for her own child was overwhelming, and the idea that the school would be structured in such a way as to actually GIVE books away was beyond them.

Over time, as some families had children of many age groups move up and through the system, the younger siblings would be better prepared for school because of the simple act of having two or three books in the home via the older siblings' involvement in our program. The real magic happened in a couple of ways. It was great to see the younger child recognize a book in our reading lab library that we knew we had given to the older child a couple of years before. Very direct correlation, and to watch a child who was struggling with the mystery of text on a page light up when they found something familiar was wonderful.

The other way we knew the program was working was, as some of the older children continued to be in our program, they were consciously choosing for themselves more and more advanced books, sometimes ones which were a bit higher than their actual reading level. We never discouraged this, as most of the success with improving one's reading skills is simple interest. Sometimes one of these not-so-successful readers would then choose the exact same book for our lab time as they had taken home, and we would work with them on reading the book. To see them actually volunteering to take on a challenge, with assistance, for something they had at home only seemed to mean one thing for those of us working with the children: they wanted to be successful reading what they had at home. As I recall, several kids came into the lab after struggling with a chapter, and then proudly pulled the book off the shelves and read it to us smoothly, obviously having practiced at home.

Nothing leads to success in reading like having books in your house. Period.

(On a related note, my mother taught fourth grade for many many years. Teachers earn "points" when the kids in their classes purchase books through services like Scholastic Book Club. A lot of teachers use these points to buy books for their classroom, or teaching aides (bulletin board material, books of classroom ideas, etc), or even purchase adult selection books for themselves. My mother, bless her heart, always used these points to get books to give away. Every year, every child got two books -- one on their birthday (she would even mail books to kids with summer birthdays), and one at Christmas Winter Break. Even the kids who never bought a book got them. She would spend hours matching up books to children to try to match interest with content, and then would gift wrap each one, etc. I didn't realize at the time what a wonderful thing she was doing.)
posted by hippybear at 9:45 AM on August 28, 2009 [32 favorites]


Man.

I've been watching (half-watching, anyway) a lot of Reading Rainbow lately. It's on at 6:30 here and that's about the time that my kid settling into his egg or waffle or cereal or whatever, and I've gotten into the habit of turning on PBS or a video while he east breakfast. Parent of the year, I know.

But I've been pretty impressed with how GOOD Reading Rainbow actually is - it's not just "not actively bad" which is about as far as I can go for a lot of the garbage on PBS. It talks about real things, it has people from a bunch of different walks of life, it's simple enough that my 2.5 year old enjoys it, and sophisticated enough that I enjoy it. It shows lots of kids talking in lots of ways about lots of books.

I just don't understand how we're better off without Reading Rainbow.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:49 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is so sad, as a kid with a voracious appetite for books I loved RR (I was six when it began). I remember the Miss Nelson Is Back episode too. I would really like to see a version for adults.
posted by ants at 9:56 AM on August 28, 2009


Teamwork!

If all LeVar Burton ever did was Roots, he'd be a legend.

If all LeVar Burton ever did was play Geordi LaForge, he'd be a legend.

If all LeVar Burton ever did was Reading Rainbow, he'd still be a legend.

Let's not forget what we have in Mr. Burton, a living legend.

Thanks LeVar and the people who have made the show over the years. It was my favorite show as a child (so much so that I used to record the audio by holding my Fisher-Price tape recorder up to the TV speaker so I could listen again) and I'm sure it is one of the things that makes me who I am today.
posted by inturnaround at 10:03 AM on August 28, 2009 [11 favorites]


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posted by HumanComplex at 10:08 AM on August 28, 2009


(On a related note, my mother taught fourth grade for many many years. Teachers earn "points" when the kids in their classes purchase books through services like Scholastic Book Club. A lot of teachers use these points to buy books for their classroom, or teaching aides (bulletin board material, books of classroom ideas, etc), or even purchase adult selection books for themselves. My mother, bless her heart, always used these points to get books to give away. Every year, every child got two books -- one on their birthday (she would even mail books to kids with summer birthdays), and one at Christmas Winter Break. Even the kids who never bought a book got them. She would spend hours matching up books to children to try to match interest with content, and then would gift wrap each one, etc. I didn't realize at the time what a wonderful thing she was doing.)

hippybear, will you hug your mom for me?
posted by corey flood at 10:19 AM on August 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm going to be relying on MetaFilter and an FPP to notify me of Mr. Burton's webisodes should they happen.
posted by cmoj at 10:20 AM on August 28, 2009


I was also surprised to see that Reading Rainbow was still on the air, I'm sad that it is ending. I do hope Levar does something with his adult Reading Rainbow concept. He has talked about it several times on TWiT with Leo Laport. Also check out the links above to his blog and Twitter if you haven't already. I love that in addition to writing blog posts he also records them audiobook style. He's a joy to listen to reading.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:43 AM on August 28, 2009


I think my favorite Reading Rainbow memory was seeing episodes which featured books I already had and loved. The feeling was immense.

I was SO excited as they began introducing the book (I think this happened for The Piggy in the Puddle) that it was as if the national news had been about to broadcast an interview with my best friend.

"Here's a story about a little pig, who.." NO WAY!!!! "just doesn't want to do what her family" I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!! "thinks she ought to do," I WISH IT WEREN'T 1987 SO I COULD TIVO THIS "and what happens when she just says 'nope!'"

I'm pretty sure I recited along with the show, sad I had nobody with me to show off my insider's staus with The Piggy in the Puddle to.

I'm gonna miss this show, but good. It was a real treasure and a treasury of beautiful stories. But you don't have to take my word for it. Badoot Doot!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:51 AM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


It really doesn't help that much that phonics vs. whole reading is one of the great pissing matches of education.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:57 AM on August 28, 2009


It really doesn't help that much that phonics vs. whole reading is one of the great pissing matches of education.

Yeah, no kidding. Especially since nobody really knows how kids learn to read fluently, and it seems to mostly be a "throwing clay at the wall until it sticks" kind of exercise. Kids will either grasp it intuitively regardless of the method used to teach them, or else they require a full-on "assault" with every possible method for getting their minds to link the abstract squiggles on a page with words and sounds. It's a magical process, one which has no firm grounding or study outside of educational theorists. Watching a child who has never had success in reading suddenly Get It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever had in my life.
posted by hippybear at 11:28 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Right now flashes of so many great episodes are flashing through my mind--Conan the Librarian!

OMG! I've been telling people for years that I remember a show from my childhood that had Canon the Librarian, and they all think I'm nuts. Apparently I've been remembering a Reading Rainbow episode all this time!

Man, I loved that show.

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posted by geeky at 11:59 AM on August 28, 2009


Ok, since I can't leave well enough alone.

On the one side, you have the Phonics camp which says that a critical step in learning to read is associating character combinations with pronounced sounds, and if you decode that mapping between character and sound to create whole words, you can tap into a person's basic vocabulary and the rest comes automatically. So phonics tends to focus on progression based on word complexity, at least for the younger grades.

The Whole Language camp argues that literacy is more than just the mapping of character->phoneme->word->meaning, and that phonics ignores that entire layer of pragmatics that goes along with language use. So Whole Language advocates tend to focus on exposing students to written literary works that are designed to be just higher than the current reading level.

(And of course, advocates of both sides liberally ignore the fact that it might not be that simple for students who fall out of the mainstream: Deaf, ESL, hard of hearing, learning disabilities.)

Then, you throw in the problem that these camps also align to the other great political pissing-match of eduction: quantitative vs. qualitative evaluation. Then parents get involved, so you have a lot of yelling because one kid struggled until she was introduced to a specific curriculum, while another kid thrived under a different curriculum. And then at some point, as educational arguments frequently do, it devolves into a a shouting match that the other camp is hurting children by stunting their educational development. Political and cultural alignments get dragged into the fray, as does generational cohorts (with baby boomers as the frequent scapegoat).

So in the end, you have the political debate at the level of the national and state school boards and the U.S. Department of Education where children and teachers become pawns in a larger ideological struggle. Meanwhile, I've not yet met a teacher worthy of a classroom who wasn't deeply pragmatic about using whatever damn pedagogy the individual student needed.

And the best magic bullet for literacy appears to be getting books into the hands of both students and parents.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:06 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Despite being able to sing the Sesame Street theme song and having spent some time in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, I've never seen Reading Rainbow.

Any of you folks missing it care to explain what it actually was?
I gather that had celebrity types reading books? With animation?
posted by madajb at 1:19 PM on August 28, 2009


Madajb, I've only seen a couple episodes, but it was more about "yay reading is cool!" Usually each episode had a theme (one I saw was all about baking bread, say) and host LaVar Burton would usually present two books on that topic in some way (say, the first book was "The Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, maybe, and the second one was about another similar theme). They'd "read" both books via narration and animation -- one at the beginning of the episode, and one at the end -- and in the middle, the host would go visit a bakery and then visit someone making their own bread or something. (For the bread one, I distinctly remember him visiting a Hopi reservation where a woman showed him how to make a traditional Hopi bread on a griddle).

At some point in each episode, they'd have "book reviews" from other kids, which may or may not have been related to the theme in question, which usually featured a about five or six kids each speaking for about 30 seconds about this super-cool book they liked.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on August 28, 2009


(hit post too soon, sorry.)

The whole thrust of the show is "see, Books can show you all sorts of cool information about all this neat stuff -- so yay, reading!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:29 PM on August 28, 2009


This hurts where things hurt the most.
:(
posted by june made him a gemini at 1:49 PM on August 28, 2009


EmpressCallipygos -

Fun. I'll have to keep an eye out for DVDs when the kid gets old enough.
posted by madajb at 1:51 PM on August 28, 2009


I reeeeeeeally hope LeVar Burton's adult Reading Rainbow turns out better than Daniel Richler's. Yawn! I did love Mary Walsh's one, though; it was like Oprah's Book Club for people with brains.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:24 PM on August 28, 2009


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