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LeVar Burton exceeds goal in campaign to bring back ‘Reading Rainbow’

Eight years after his long running PBS educational series went off the air, actor LeVar Burton is spearheading a campaign to bring it back in a new format. The 57-year-old actor, who’s best known for his role as Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” served as the host of PBS’ “Reading Rainbow” from 1983 to 2006 and is looking for backers to bring the show back as a web series, according to a report posted Wednesday by ABC News.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: LeVar Burton speaks onstage at Engadget Expand NY 2013 at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on November 9, 2013 in New York City.
Photo by Craig Barritt

Burton’s Kickstarter campaign has incredibly already surpassed its $1 million goal (with over 33,000 generous backers) and there’s still 34 days left to go. A minimal donation to the campaign will net donors exclusive updates and a special thank you on the website, but for $200 comes a 2015 "Reading Rainbow" calendar and a signed copy of Burton's new book. A donation of $600 or more will land you a personal chat with the actor.

"I believe that every child has a right, and a need, to be literate," Burton wrote of the campaign, adding that one out of four American children will grow up illiterate if something doesn’t change.

To that end, "Reading Rainbow,” which won 26 Emmys and a Peabody award, would come back in a new, digital incarnation. "In 2014, TV is not that place anymore,” Burton wrote. “Now, we’re trying to reach a new generation of digital natives.”

Of course, these days nothing comes for free. According to the Washington Post, the Kickstarter would actually fund an expansion of Burton’s RRKidz Reading Rainbow tablet app, bringing it to desktop computers. The app would be available on the Web with updates and special tools for teachers and it would come at a monthly subscription cost, which means low income families would need to access it via a computer with high-speed Internet access. The tablet app costs about $60 a year.

Considering the fact that the charismatic Burton made his $1 million goal in less than 24 hours (actually, the donations tally has surpassed $1.5 mil as of this writing), one has to wonder how many personal chats he’s now committed to in his admirable quest to bring “Reading Rainbow” back for a new generation.