After more than 15 years off the air, the iconic children’s program READING RAINBOW is announcing its return with READING RAINBOW LIVE, the next chapter in the beloved program’s groundbreaking story. Utilizing all that modern technology has to offer and designed for a new generation of children, READING RAINBOW LIVE will do what the original program could not – invite viewers into the screen to interact with each other and the program’s hosts. The result will be a fresh and fun environment with the feel of a playroom, where children will have an opportunity to learn and grow together through reading, music, and dance.
“We are excited and proud to be partnering with Ohana Pictures on READING RAINBOW LIVE,” said Nancy Hammond, Executive VP & COO of Buffalo Toronto Public Media (WNED PBS), the creators of the iconic READING RAINBOW brand. “Early learning experiences are crucial to the growth and development of young children, and READING RAINBOW LIVE provides a fun and innovative way for kids to explore the world and learn through books, music and movement.”
“As an educator and author, I’m thrilled to be a part of the READING RAINBOW family because they know the importance and value of engaging children in reading,” commented Creative Director, Amy Guglielmo. “There is nothing more magical than seeing children connect with a book, because books can take us anywhere. It is my mission with READING RAINBOW LIVE to help to spark these connections.”
READING RAINBOW LIVE will share the same core values and structure as the original READING RAINBOW program. Using original music, dance parties, field trips, cultural explorations, investigations of the natural world – and of course, the book of the day – each 25-minute episode of READING RAINBOW LIVE will feature a different theme designed to engage and inform young viewers. The program will be hosted by THE RAINBOWS, a diverse, talented, and comedic troupe of young performers who will provide an aspirational model for the show’s viewers. Producers are currently searching for the program’s final RAINBOW. To view the casting notice, click HERE.
“The Covid quarantine presented challenges for parents with young children in particular,” commented Executive Producer, Steven Beer. “Without playgrounds, play groups or early childhood programs, many parents struggled to keep their kids engaged in learning activities. READING RAINBOW LIVE was developed as a ‘life-saver’ response to this challenge.”
“The impact of READING RAINBOW on literacy and an entire generation of children cannot be underestimated,” added Tom Calderone, President & CEO of Buffalo Toronto Public Media. “Because of that, we have been very careful about how we reimagine the future of READING RAINBOW, and we’re delighted to have found partners to help us bring the powerful mission — and entertainment — of READING RAINBOW to a live event for kids no matter where they are.”
Using the interactive virtual platform Looped, audience members will have the chance to engage, play games, and even have an opportunity to be featured “on stage” during each episode of READING RAINBOW LIVE. Whether they are asking questions of a cast member, following along to a dance routine, or being rewarded for answering a question correctly, viewers will be motivated to participate, and parents will be gratified knowing that their children are being entertained and intellectually stimulated. Episodes of READING RAINBOW LIVE will be available to stream after the live event is complete, so children can enjoy each episode whether or not they participated in the original broadcast.
“We are thrilled to partner with READING RAINBOW LIVE as their official platform and virtual venue,” commented Looped CEO, Faisel Durrani. “We look forward to bringing our digital and interactive features into a safe and engaging environment where children and families can interact and truly be part of a bespoke digital experience. We believe this interactivity will truly become the new standard in programming and content consumption among viewers of all ages.”
The creative design of READING RAINBOW LIVE will be spearheaded by Amy Guglielmo, an award-winning author, educator, artist, and community arts and STEAM advocate. As Creative Director, she brings over twenty years of experience in both children’s publishing and public and private school education to the READING RAINBOW LIVE team.
READING RAINBOW LIVE is committed to featuring an inclusive selection of books that represent diverse authors, illustrators, main characters, subjects, and settings. The team is working with a diverse national advisory panel of librarians, educators, childhood literacy experts, parents, and children to select books that reflect the lives of all young people. Books will be chosen from lists approved by organizations such as: ALA (American Library Association) and We Need Diverse Books.
READING RAINBOW LIVE will be produced by Ohana Pictures, a premium television and film production company founded by industry veteran, Mark Harris. Harris is a creator of Kevin Hart’s “What the Fit” for YouTube and Fox’s “Kicking & Screaming.” The company has segued into film, with their first narrative feature currently in development with a major studio and streamer, and a second project also slated to shoot in 2022.
READING RAINBOW LIVE will also be Executive Produced by James P. Axiotis, an international producer with over 25 years of experience developing, casting, and producing film and television content for theatrical and streaming platforms, both scripted and reality based.
“I’m awed by the opportunity to help breathe life into this new interactive experience inspired by the iconic READING RAINBOW brand,” commented Producer Mark Harris. “I grew up watching the classic show and, like many others, came to appreciate the power of reading and storytelling thanks to the impact of the linear program. It’s an honor to play a small part in writing this new chapter in the larger READING RAINBOW story and in connecting with a whole new generation of fans.”
Executive Producer Steven Beer created READING RAINBOW LIVE in early 2021, during the COVID quarantine when concerned parents yearned for new ways to engage and educate their young children. A huge fan of READING RAINBOW, Beer first grasped the outsized role of creativity with learning as a parent watching a kindergarten class taught by Guglielmo in 2000. Steven recruited Guglielmo and Harris to help develop and present the show to Hammond and her READING RAINBOW team at WNED PBS.
Additional launch, casting, and creative details will be announced in the coming weeks.
ABOUT READING RAINBOW
Launched in 1983, READING RAINBOW became the most watched PBS program in the classroom. Designed to encourage a love of books and reading among children, the series garnered more than 250 awards, including a prestigious Peabody, nine Parents’ Choice awards and 26 Emmys, nine of which were for Outstanding Children’s Series. Most importantly, READING RAINBOW was beloved by children, parents, and educators.
In the years since READING RAINBOW left the airwaves, much has changed in the world of children’s television. While broadcast TV remains an important tool for reaching children, online and interactive content provides new ways to excite children about reading.
Buffalo Toronto Public Media (BTPM) is excited to partner with Ohana Pictures on the creation of an educational, interactive initiative based upon the original READING RAINBOW series that is geared toward children between the ages of 4-8 years old.
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