Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reading Rainbow... what's the point?

Cancelled. Why? Because the US Department of Education (and therefore PBS) are now only concerned with kids learning phonics, spelling and other tools of reading. They could care less about whether or not kids WANT to read... Reading Rainbow was created in 1983, in response to the question "How do we get kids to read books?". I'm all for programs like Super Why, Word World, Between the Lions, etc., which help reinforce reading skills and tools. (Particularly for those kids whose parents don't teach or promote these skills at home). But, I guess the current educational administration would prefer kids who may know HOW to read, but don't WANT to. Reading Rainbow and Mister Rogers are Wyatt's absolute favorite shows, and in addition to exposing us to books we may never have found otherwise, he learns so much each episode about the topic subject. The subjects ranged from typical childhood interests (animals, sports, etc.) to far deeper issues (race, religion, politics, to say the least). Many of the things discussed are subjects that don't come up in our daily lives or the books we currently have. It is one of the most well-rounded shows for kids I've ever seen, and like Mister Rogers, it was never dumbed down. It was clearly written under the assumption that kids are intelligent and eager to learn. So many shows these days seem to think kids need to be "tricked" into learning. I'm terribly disappointed to see this show go. Please write/email PBS and let them know that this show means something to you and your kids! I'm letting them know that I'll be willing to pledge them money (for the first time, despite my desires to do so before), if it will bring the show back. And if you're in Canada, follow my lead, and ask CBC Kids if they would consider picking up the broadcasting rights to the show. Maybe our government is more willing to fund a show that will foster a true love of reading, and help us raise a generation of people who will contribute to our country and society? As for the future of the show in my own home, I fortunately have a few favorite episodes still on the PVR, but looking for something more permanent, I tried to find DVDs online... YIKES! Each individual episode is $29.95 each, and the whole series is $3895. Sorry... I'll have to pass!

UPDATE: Here's a copy of the email that I sent to PBS.

I am GREATLY disappointed by the cancellation of Reading Rainbow. While I understand the need and use of phonics based reading programs, to ignore the need for a show that teaches the love of reading is to sentence this generation (and those that follow) to a world where people know HOW to read, but don't care and don't want to. What kind of service does this provide for the future? There are so few programs airing that treat children as intelligent creatures, rather than dumbing things down and assuming that kids need to be tricked into learning. Kids WANT to learn, and they DESERVE to be respected. Reading Rainbow and Mister Rogers are the rare kind of shows that fill this need, and to lose one of the greatest positive influences on literacy and quality children's programming is a sad loss indeed. Please reconsider. I've always appreciated your network, and wished I could afford to donate. I will gladly scrape up what I can, and run a Tupperware fundraiser, if the funds I raise would help bring back this true gem. Thank you for your time!

No comments:

Post a Comment