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Biblio File, Children's Literature @ NYPL

Why We Love LeVar Burton


LeVar Burton reading at a 2012 event; photo via the U.S. Department of Education Flickr

LeVar Burton is an actor (Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation), director, and author. To library folk and other bookworms, however, he is likely best known as the host and executive producer of Reading Rainbow. Debuting in 1983 and remaining on the air until 2009, the show encouraged 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s kids’ curiosity and love of reading—from its signature theme song to Burton’s now hashtagged catchphrase (#bydhttmwfi “but you don’t have to take my word for it”). In 2012, RR leapt from television to digital devices, inspiring another generation of children to “take a look / it’s in a book” in new, interactive ways.



Though both Reading Rainbow and LeVar Burton’s career have evolved over the years, his commitment to empower all children to become lifelong readers has remained the same. He’s still making reading cool.



He even helped The New York Public Library out when it asked authors, librarians, and other readers to pick up a book or e-reader and declare #ireadeverywhere, which made us feel pretty special.



There are many reasons to love LeVar Burton. Certainly one of them is that he’s taught so many of us that we “can be the expert by picking up a book” and that it’s up to us “to pick it off the shelf.”



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Reading Rainbow is a great show

Thanks, Levar Burton, for being an excellent role model for the love of reading and how it enriches our lives. You've made a positive impact on millions of children. May your legacy grow for generations to come.

Raised some of us

At the sake of sounding like a cheese ball, his show made it possible for some kids to keep pushing on despite the bad stuff happening in our lives. Every week this show made me want to go home and try to do homework and always kinda made me realize the wonder and adventure of books. I got into Stephen King when I was 16. Even before then remember the shcolastic book club? You would buy books from this little paper booklet you would get in school? Choose your own adventure and which way books were my favorite. Mad props to Levar for making kids see even tiniest of light is all that is needed. Thanks from Nick in MA.

A lifetime of inspiration for reading

At nearly 30 now, I will always fondly remember Reading Rainbow as a driving force behind my continuing pursuit of knowledge. This was THE show to watch when we were younger and I'm glad that it is still available to new readers. LeVar is the best and I hope he will continue inspiring readers for many years to come. From Steve in Canada.

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