I heard on NPR today that the show Reading Rainbow is coming to an end after 26 years. I remember watching it as a kid and loving it. I was already an avid reader but there was something the show could do that I couldn’t and that was go on adventures. I grew up pretty sheltered, with over-protective immigrant parents. They encouraged my love of books so my earliest memories are of my parents reading to me before bed. My younger sister and I weren’t allowed to watch much television and it took years of begging, pleading, and bargaining to get a Nintendo but if we wanted to go to the library or if we wanted to buy books at the school book fair, they never said no. And we were allowed to watch Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, and Mr. Rogers.
The show was definitely unique. There is nothing like it and there probably never will be. Sadly, the show is ending not because there is no audience but because there is no funding. Our government is stressing the importance of phonics and spelling and testing (and test scores). I agree that the fundamentals are important but I think before the fundamentals comes the love of reading. My sister probably wanted to learn to read because she saw how much I enjoyed it. And she probably learned without realizing what I was teaching her. Now that the fundamentals are being taught first, reading becomes a chore, something you have to do for school instead of something you do for fun. (Sometimes getting my husband to read is a chore!) And that makes me sad.