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children reading books with Reading Rainbow logo

Launched in 1983, Reading Rainbow became the most watched PBS program in the classroom. The series was formulated because of the “summer loss phenomena," whereby a child loses some of his or her reading abilities because they tend not to read during the summer. While the concept of Reading Rainbow began as a summer program, it quickly grew into a broadcast blockbuster, classroom staple and cultural icon.

During its 26-year run, Reading Rainbow garnered more than 250 awards, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, Telly Awards, Parent’s and Teacher’s Choice Awards, and a total of 26 Emmy Awards, including ten for outstanding series.


Reading Rainbow

The Future of Reading Rainbow

The broadcast and creation of new Reading Rainbow episodes ended in 2006 due to funding challenges and a growing need to update the show’s concept to adapt to changing technology and delivery methods. The series continued to air in re-runs until 2009. The media landscape of children’s programming has expanded considerably since the show’s premiere over three decades ago; there is now an abundance of new shows, channels, and means of watching video, including on-demand, streaming, and on tablets and mobile devices.  These means allow for direct links to related interactive activities and educational games. 

Buffalo Toronto Public Media (BTPM) plans to re-establish Reading Rainbow as a leader in children’s education programming. To meet the needs of kids today and ensure the longevity of the series, it is necessary to adapt to evolving digital media needs and delivery methods. New and emerging technology has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for this type of creative engagement, and there is now more evidence-based research on the most effective teaching strategies across different media. BTPM is currently exploring the most popular and effective methods of developing and enhancing content in order to determine the optimal course of action for reimagining this program.

We have some exciting projects in the works for Reading Rainbow, so check back to our website often and be sure to follow us on social media!