Reading Rainbow (1983– )

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Levar Burton introduces young viewers to illustrated readings of children's literature and explores their related subjects.

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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 36 wins & 90 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
 Himself - Host (151 episodes, 1983-2006)


LeVar Burton introduces an appropriate subject for each episode to go with the featured children's book that is read in its entirety. This is followed by suggestions of other books for further reading. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

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Release Date:

6 June 1983 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Host LeVar Burton continued hosting the series while also co-starring in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987). In 1988, the most popular "Reading Rainbow" episode of all time (Reading Rainbow: The Bionic Bunny Show (1988)) featured a behind-the-scenes look at the making of TNG. Most notably, the episode included a set of TNG bloopers - the only legal release of such material. See more »


[opening phrase]
LeVar Burton: Hi.
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Featured in I Love the 80's 3-D: 1983 (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Fantastic Way to Encourage Kids to Read.
13 May 2004 | by (Orlando, Florida) – See all my reviews

While it has been years since I used to religiously watch 'Reading Rainbow,' I do remember how much I loved it.

Each episode had a particular theme such as teaching kids about different occuptaions or perhaps places. The show's charismatic host, LaVar Burton might travel to a factory to show kids how cheese is made, or play co-pilot in an airplane. So, each episode, provided something different about the world and the people in it to kids, giving them a very diversified and educational show. Additionally, the show would end with suggested reading for people interested in the show's themes. And these books were usually presented with a brief review from kids. I remember our library even had a section of books that had appeared on Reading Rainbow.

LaVar Burton's educational journeys were not the only part of the show. They also read a book during each episode, which was read either by Mr. Burton or by some celebrity reader (I remember James Earl Jones read one of my favorite books about a young African boy who was a rainmaker, though the name escapes me), and they displayed the pictures on the screen. I think they displayed it with the words so you could read along, but I don't remember. I know it wasn't like watching a storyteller sit and read the book to a bunch of kids and showing them the book. You actually got to see the book yourself while the voice was dubbed along. It was a good show that encouraged reading and interest in a whole lot of things. Then again, PBS had a lot of shows like that at the time--Math Net (a take on Dragnet in which the detectives used math to solve each mystery); Square One (a variety educational program); 3-2-1 Contact (which I don't remember much, except for the name); and so forth.

If they don't run the reruns or if Reading Rainbow has retired long ago, I wish that they would try to get kids interested in that again. It did more than just trying to encourage kids to read, it tried to teach them about a lot of different things. I still remember the show that took you inside of a macaroni manufacturing plant and a crayon manufacturing plant. It was cool.

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