The Emmy-winning Reading Rainbow is coming to an end, due to a shift in the philosophy of educational television.
Friday marks the end of the twenty-six-year run of Reading Rainbow, hosted by Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s LeVar Burton.
John Grant, who is in charge of content at WNED Buffalo, Reading Rainbow‘s home station, explained the reasoning behind the cancellation of the popular show. No one, explained Grant, not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will make available the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show’s broadcasting rights.
“Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read,” said Grant. “You know, the love of reading…[the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and read.”
Lack of funding in these hard times was partly to blame for the cancellation, but a shift in the philosophy regarding how to teach children to read was the real reason.
Linda Simensky, vice president for children’s programming at PBS explained that PBS felt that the mechanics are reading, not teaching the love of reading, should be the priority. “We’ve been able to identify the earliest steps that we need to take,” she said. “Now we know what we need to do first. Even just from five years ago, I think we all know so much more about how to use television to teach.”
Evidently the twenty-six year run, third only to Sesame Street and Mister Rogers, as well as two dozen Emmys won by Reading Rainbow weren’t enough to keep a tried and tested successful method of getting children to read from being jettisoned in favor of the latest pet theory of those in their ivory towers, far removed from the living rooms and classrooms where the children are actually learning.