Butterfly in the sky, I could go twice as high

My mother, a longtime public school librarian, is a big fan of Reading Rainbow, but when I broke the news to her that the show had been cancelled after a 26-year run, she wasn’t as sad as, say, I was. “I don’t think it’s such a big deal; they can still show kids the reruns.” So my sadness is probably a significant bit of gen-x nostalgia. But don’t take my word for it …

[T]he funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. … PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read — but that’s not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do. “Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read,” Grant says. “You know, the love of reading — [the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read.”

Linda Simensky, vice president for children’s programming at PBS, says that when Reading Rainbow was developed in the early 1980s, it was an era when the question was: “How do we get kids to read books?” … Research has directed programming toward phonics and reading fundamentals as the front line of the literacy fight. Reading Rainbow occupied a more luxurious space — the show operated on the assumption that kids already had basic reading skills and instead focused on fostering a love of books.

from “‘Reading Rainbow’ Reaches Its Final Chapter,” by Ben Calhoun, NPR, 28 August 2009 :: via The Morning News

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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