Most of my childhood memories are very happy, but fuzzy, recollections of times past, with a few flashes of clarity interspersed here and there. I remember certain birthday parties, random moments in the classroom, annual visits from Korean relatives and neighborhood games of hot potato, just to name a few.
Something I remember for its regularity is sitting in front of my huge wooden TV with the big dials and rabbit ears and watching my beloved Saturday morning cartoons. While my TV watching was mostly reserved for the weekends, even more special were the allowances made during the week for certain educational shows and luckily, Reading Rainbow was one of the elite few that made the cut.
I can still recall the graphics at the outset of the show with that animated butterfly, the 80s synthesizer riff and of course, the iconic theme song. Butterfly in the sky, I can fly twice as high…I would watch enraptured, so excited to see which books were featured and moreover, which kids were introducing them. I remember any time I saw an Asian child, thinking, Hey! She looks like me!
My Reading Rainbow memory came full circle last year when I had the opportunity to meet the man himself – the one who brought me the joy of TV during the week – Mr. LeVar Burton. We were speaking at the same tech conference in the Bay area, and with the same level of engagement I remember as a child, he spoke to the audience with conviction, energy and a clear passion for reading. It’s no surprise that at the end of his speech, his presence inspired a room full of 150+ adults to break out in the Reading Rainbow song together. It was quite a moment. The show I still remember decades later has clearly had the same effect on others, too.
What I was thrilled to hear about was the subsequent launch of the Reading Rainbow iPad app, allowing an entire new generation of kids to cultivate a love of reading, as it did for mine.
Being able to pass the legacy of this brand onto my kids is something that I really appreciate. While the medium for the Reading Rainbow experience is a little different, the message remains the same. Using the app with my kids has been a great way for me to recall my love of the show, and also give them a glimpse of what I was like as a kid and why I loved watching it.
With the advances in technology and the kinds of innovation kids are growing up with (and have come to expect), like every generation, I find saying “we didn’t have that as kids” to be much more commonplace in our tech-obsessed culture. But through the Reading Rainbow app, it has been so special to find a common ground that connects my media experiences as a kid to that of my children.
Now that’s what I call gold at the end of the rainbow.
By Jeana Lee Tahnk
Jeana Lee Tahnk contributes to Parenting.com, Mashable, and The Huffington Post, among others. She is a self-proclaimed techno-geek and is obsessed with gadgets, gizmos and any tech device that starts with an “i”.
Reading Rainbow wants to thank Jeana Lee Tahnk for contributing to this week’s guest blog. We are proud to have played a part in her childhood, and appreciate her support in our mission to inspire a love of reading in children and connect them to the world they live in through quality literature so they can “Go anywhere. Be anything.“