LeVar Burton Discusses New 'Reading Rainbow' App at 'Star Trek' Convention

Sitting in a room full of "Star Trek" fans, I expected to hear actor and director LeVar Burton answer the same questions about his role as Geordi LaForge in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Instead, he launched into a discussion about "Reading Rainbow" and its relaunch - in electronic form.

Burton addressed fans at a Creation Entertainment "Star Trek" Convention on May 6, 2012 in Cherry Hill, NJ.

"The app will be free," Burton explained. "We are a subscription service. This is more like a library [with] books, videos, reward systems. I'm really proud of the way we've translated the show to the app."

At 31, I recall growing up with "Reading Rainbow" even before I knew LeVar Burton as Geordi on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." I enjoyed reading, and the show encouraged that healthy habit. As I think about starting my own family, I recall the many hours I spent with my own mother, who not only read books to me but naturally taught me how to read before I learned in school.

In the age of digital content with full-color readers like the Kindle Fire, will I get to have the same experience someday? Many of my peers (including technology geeks) have a love-hate relationship with digital publishing technology. We love books and we love gadgets, but we don't necessarily appreciate the way gadgets have taken over reading.

The "Reading Rainbow" app can establish trust and bridge that gap for the thirtysomething parent.

Like my childhood, Burton's early years included a mother who valued reading as a vital part of her child's education.

"In my mother's house you either read a book or were hit over the head with one," he joked. More seriously, he said, "She has had a profound impact. That which we imagine is what we tend to manifest in this realm."

Truly an educator at heart, Burton welcomed discussion of the new "Reading Rainbow" product. At the convention, a fan voiced concerns about the accessibility of this new technology to underprivileged and under-served children who arguably need access to the app the most.

This is a special concern at the convention venue - a short drive from poverty-stricken Camden, NJ and Philadelphia, a city noted for the difficulties in its educational system and its recent closure of libraries.

Because the "Reading Rainbow" app will appear on Apple's iOS first, only consumers with the most expensive toys will get a chance to grab it first.

"In the fullness of time, Apple will release a tablet that has a more reasonable price point," Burton predicts, also noting that the app will be available for Droid and other compatible devices a few months after the Apple version is released.

Given his involvement with literacy, it's likely that Burton will do more to address the needs of all children when promoting the app in future months, hopefully working with school and library systems to make the app accessible to all students.

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The author received a press pass from Creation Entertainment for the purpose of covering this convention.

Published by Tara M. Clapper

Tara M. Clapper is a freelance writer living in the Philadelphia area. The author steadily produces material for content sites and private clients while pursuing a Masters in Publishing part time. Tara s...  View profile

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  • Linda M. McCloud 5/18/2012

    Sounds like a great app. Thanks for sharing the info.