Saturday, June 23, 2012

'Reading Rainbow' iPad app brings the PBS show into the 21st century

It was not that long ago that Levar Burton (Geordi LaForge of "Star Trek: The Next Generation") and his startup, RRKidz acquired the Reading Rainbow Twitter account, as part of Burton's efforts to resurrect the "Reading Rainbow" brand. This week, RRKidz unveiled the next generation Reading Rainbow: an iPad app.

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The app itself is free, but in order to receive ongoing content a subscription - via na in-app purchase - is required. Users can opt for a $9.99 monthly subscription or a $29.99 six-month subscription (introductory price).

Burton was host for the "Reading Rainbow" series during its 26-year-long PBS run. As he introduced the app, he was emotional. He actually had to dab away tears before he began his presentation of the app.

Important to those behind the app was keeping the app in sync with the traditions of the series. For example, although it is currently missing from the app, the audience was assured that the book report feature that played such a big role in the show would eventually appear in the app.

In the press release, Burton said,

"I come from a family teachers, and when I was offered the opportunity to host Reading Rainbow in 1983, I recognized immediately the value in using technology to inspire kids to read. Reading will never go out of style, but the tools used for learning are changing. I am excited to bring Reading Rainbow back so that parents who watched the show can now share that same feel-good experience with their own children but on a platform that resonates with today's digital kids."

The first edition, so to speak, of the "Reading Rainbow" app has 150 books, with interactive activities in all of them. The library will be expanded frequently, said RRKidz.

There are also 16 video field trips with more to come, and a reward program to motivate your child's reading. Parents will be able to track their child's progress via a Parent Dashboard.

It's not as if there aren't plenty of other interactive books in both the App Store and Google Play. However. none of them have the one thing this app has: the "Reading Rainbow" name, which will resonate not so much with the kids in the 3-9 age range that the app targets, but with their parents.

You can watch the "Reading Rainbow" app trailer, below, along a video of Levar Burton introducing the app and a hands-on video.

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