A generation of children grew up learning to love reading by watching LeVar Burton’s PBS show Reading Rainbow. The show was cancelled in 2009 after a 26-year run, but has been resurrected as a new iPad app.
Engadget attended the public launch of the app, and has video of Burton’s emotional introduction of the app, as well as some hands-on reviews.
Burton told us that he was genuinely surprised with the public outcry that followed the show’s cancellation. Kids have grown up with it for more than a quarter-century, and as such, there are some fairly strong emotional bonds at play here. According to Burton, maintaining the elements that made the show so magical was the most difficult aspect of the 18 months the team invested in the creation of the app. And, naturally, one reporter in attendance wanted to know what happened to the book report feature that played heavily in the TV show. Burton assured him that it’s coming.
The app’s interface is built around a series of floating islands, each based on a different genre. At present, the islands include “My Friends and Family,” “Animal Kingdom,” “Genius Academy” (science and math) and “Action Adventures & Magic Tales.” More subject islands will be added as the app continues to be built out. Burton told us that the team was looking to move away from the more traditional e-book shelf format, into something that made reading “more of an adventure,” much like the original program.
New books are available via a subscription service for $9.99/month, or $29.99 for a six-month subscription. Reading Rainbow‘s page on the App Store has additional details for exactly how the subscription system works.