LeVar Burton: Building ‘The Next Generation’ Of Readers
The actor, who made his name as “Kunta Kinte” in the 1977 miniseries Roots and, later, as “Geordi La Forge” in the long-running TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, credits his 19-year-old daughter, Michaela, with the crowd-funding idea. “Michaela is of this generation, a digital native. She said, ‘Why don’t you guys just do a Kickstarter?’ As a 30-year-old brand, if we were to very publicly ask for money, then fail, it would’ve probably been game over.” But that never happened and they raised over their goal in a shorter amount of time that anyone could have predicted.
At a time when 66% of American fourth graders aren’t proficient in reading (source: 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)) and slightly more for African American children, the need for literacy-building programs is evident. Burton’s Kickstarter funds are being used to develop two subscription-based versions of a Reading Rainbow website: a home edition for kids and families, and a classroom version for teachers with accompanying lesson plans.
“This is my mission—and has been for 30 years. My commitment to connect children to the magic of the written word is not likely to change any time soon.”