After a 26-year run, Reading Rainbow is done because nobody will pony up the dough to renew the broadcast rights. It’s partially due to a funding crunch, reports NPR, and due to a “shift in the philosophy of educational television programming,” that started under Bush.So you can file this as another damning piece of that administration’s legacy.
That shift, it seems, has to do with how we teach kids to read—focusing more on the mechanics of reading and (ugh) phonics. Thing is, Reading Rainbow was not designed to teach kids how to read, the same way we don’t rely on Sesame Street to teach us how to count to 10, or what the difference between “near” and “far” is. (Thanks, though, Grover.) It’s about creating a love of learning, and imbuing that learning with the playfulness that gets kids excited.
Indeed, the show, which won more than two dozen Emmys, didn’t teach hard skills. It taught kids to love books, and, in the words of John Grant, the Reading Rainbow’s home station WNED Buffalo:
“Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read.”