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How a 'Reading Rainbow' revival turned into Kickstarter gold

In his bid to revive an educational-TV franchise for the next generation, actor LeVar Burton found a pot of gold for Reading Rainbow on Kickstarter.

Reading Rainbow, a literacy-promoting children's show starring Mr. Burton that ran on PBS from 1983 to 2009, has existed as a tablet-only reading app since 2012. But Mr. Burton's crowdfunding campaign, launched Wednesday, aims to create an online version, as well as classroom resources and free access for low-income youth. As of Friday morning, the Kickstarter campaign – which netted more than $1-million (U.S.) in its first day – has raised more than $2.6-million and climbing.

"I am overwhelmed," a tearful Mr. Burton said in a YouTube video posted Thursday after the campaign hit $1-million. "Thank you so much, this is going to enable us to really, really do a lot of good … Thank you so much. We are literally changing the world."

Here are a few of the more lucrative perks offered in the Kickstarter campaign.


$350: LeVar Burton follows you on Twitter

More than 1.8 million people follow Mr. Burton’s Twitter account – where he has heavily promoted the Kickstarter campaign this week – but for a donation, Mr. Burton will follow you for a year, and send a personal thank-you tweet.


$800: Reading Rainbow Live

The campaign lists three live-reading events – in Toronto, Los Angeles and New York – at to-be-determined dates. Donors get a private meet-and-greet with Mr. Burton.

$1,500: Group picnic

Donors get to join Mr. Burton for a picnic lunch in Los Angeles. (An extra $2,500 also gets donors a spot in a “video field trip” to be filmed at the event.)


$10,000: Wear Geordi LaForge’s visor

The “Ultimate Star Trek ’Geordi’s Visor’ ” package gets a private dinner with Mr. Burton in Los Angeles, giving the donor a chance to put on the visor he wore as chief engineer Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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