I remember when I was in the 4th grade I was in Mrs. Dawson’s class. She was a pleasant teacher with a warm smile who was very interested in educating her students. She had a blonde helmet of hair that was as immovable as her tenacity for teaching.
She also gave me my first C in Math. But, that’s beside the point.
Mrs. Dawson had a spot in the mornings when a few other classes crammed into our room before we started Language Arts, and we all watched an hour of Reading Rainbow.
I loved Reading Rainbow. LeVar Burton was pleasant and charming, without being puerile or condescending. He showed us how the flint of a book could spark the imagination, and take you all across the world on the flame of the story. Reading had always been my favorite pastime, and I remember at the time going through the length of Nancy Drew books we checked out of the library. So, listening to LeVar Burton tell us how exciting books were was right up my alley, and I was able to see other kids who loved reading almost as much as I did! They had to be the luckiest kids on earth, just reading books and doing book reviews all day.
This was definitely my first aspirational dream: to read for a living.
So, how excited was I to find out that Reading Rainbow was now available on Netflix??
Laundry Day… kind of half-happened.
What I would like to teach my kids is how reading is crucial to life. Through reading, we learn about what has happened in the world, what some people think will happen in the future, what is happening now, and more importantly how people feel about it all. We are able to hear the voices from across the world tell us what the wind smells like in Nepal, or how the bread tastes in St. Petersburg, or what the caribou sound like in Manitoba. I would like my kids to see books as the perspectives that continue to carve out the story of mankind, and the instrument that represents the soul of the world.
I still have a set of books I got from a month-by-month book club when I was a kid. These were only about 20 pages long, and heavily illustrated; but they were the deeply abridged stories of Classics.
However, when I read these books, I found I was drug into the stories so deeply that I forgot that time existed. The noises around me were silenced. All the problems I had in school disappeared, because no longer was I an average kid in LosAngeles…now, I was was on the submarine in Jules Verne’s books, or sailing down the Mississippi with Huck, or being scared of ghosts in James’ gothic stories.
The doors of possibility kept opening with each turned page, and my ideas of what the world was developed into what the world could be.
Reading opened doors of imagination for me in ways other media can barely fathom. Reading has been a gift of creativity that has sparked the incurable flame of curiosity in me. There is nothing more I would love than to put the gift of flint into my children’s hands so they can spark their own curiosities.
We already have a weekly library routine, and the kids have read through a few short volumes of books available on their shelves. Already, I have seen their tastes in literature change and grow as they read more and explore further down their reading rabbit hole. So, how much fun would it be to incorporate the spark of Reading Rainbow into the reading routine, where they get to see other kids, who are reading different books, and who get excited about reading along with them??
So much fun.
The only thing that makes reading better is sharing your ideas and experiences with friends!
According to a book you can find in the Reference section of the library, the definition of friend is:
a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection
I am so excited LeVar has continued to share his experiences with reading well past our childhoods, and into the lives of our own children. LeVar is absolutely a friend for life 🙂