Keeping Tabs on the Digital Divide

The LinkAge

Nostalgia for Good

ReadingRainbow

Everyone remembers the days when cartoons were the highlight of your Saturday morning and PBS”s programming schedule was etched into your mind as strongly as your own name. There is a generational pride taken in saying: “Back in my day….”

This nostalgic yearning has garnered the attention of major television networks, such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, which now devote up to four hours of late-night television to the throwback cartoons of yesteryear. LeVar Burton has decided to harness this swell of support for rehashing the past to bring back his popular children”s program Reading Rainbow.

The program, which featured Burton as the charismatic narrator, invited children to experience books through interactive storytelling while promoting literacy and a healthy love of reading. Reading Rainbow was the Oprah”s Book Club for kids from 1983 to 2006. Now Burton has challenged the public to help him once again inspire the next generation of young readers by bringing the program back as an online show, and the public has answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

Burton set up a Kickstarter campaign, with a $1 million goal. That goal was met in just 11 hours. After a 35-day run, Reading Rainbow was able to raise nearly $5.5 million. With this funding, the show will return online and will be accessible via laptops, tablets, and gaming consoles. The money will also go toward funding free year-long subscriptions to over 7,500 classrooms. Good news for today”s digital access generation.

However, while the Internet is a platform that will appeal to this generation, it is still not accessible to everyone. Over 21 percent of American households lack Internet access. Of the families affected one of the most common reasons for lack of service is cost. Only 64 percent of low-income K-12 students have broadband at home and 56 percent of teachers of the lowest income students contend that a lack of resources among students to access digital technologies is a “major challenge” to incorporating more digital tools into their teaching.

EveryoneOn is working the close the digital divide by working with Internet service providers to get low cost offers for those who need it. Let”s make sure all students can enjoy old favorites like Reading Rainbow because a love of reading equals a love of learning and a brighter future for our kids. Find out more about how you can support our efforts to bring Internet to children’s homes on our website.


<p><em>Amber Petty is the program associate at EveryoneOn.</em></p>