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Reading Rainbow relaunches for the digital age

Quillblog has good news and bad news heading into this Canada Day long weekend.

The good news: Reading Rainbow is back. Last week, actor and literacy champion LeVar Burton announced the return of the children’s reading program in app form. PBS cancelled the show in 2009 after a 26-year run. According to Forbes, Burton teamed up with TV and film producer Mark Wolfe to acquire rights to the series. Together they founded RRKidz, an educational entertainment production company, and took on the Reading Rainbow app as their first project.

Designed for children three to nine, the app allows users to browse books by category, watch new and archived videos of Burton on book-related field trips, and play games. Thanks to partnerships with a number of publishers, the app also includes a library of 150 titles available for check out.

Unlike the original Reading Rainbow, though, full access to the app has a price tag attached.

From Forbes:

The app is a subscription product costing $9.99 per month or $29.99 for six months. When I asked Burton if charging for access runs counter to his company’s mission to educate by widening the so-called digital divide between affluent and poor households, he suggested taking a longer view.

We’re at the very beginning of the tablet computer and its use, he says. I’m deeply concerned about the digital device. I believe that through governmental policy, where education is concerned, we are leaving children behind, and that’s not OK.

We have the technology. We have the ability. What we need is to marshal the will. I want to put a pad in every child’s hand in this country, and I believe that we can do that if we work together, and if we create a public-private partnership. Government can’t do that. When the entrepreneurship class discovers that education and ed tech is profitable, they’ll come around.

Endgadget has a video tour of the app, and clips from the press conference and launch, which included a live performance by Tina Fabrique of “Butterfly in the Sky,” the title song from the TV show.

Which brings us to the bad news: you’re going to have “Take a look, it’s in a book” stuck in your head all day.