BUTTERFLY IN THE SKY
Like toddlers and the Cocomelon theme song, the iconic and space-aged first notes of Reading Rainbow had me running around a corner with eyes wide in anticipation of LeVar Burton telling me about a new book my Mom needed to find me at the library. With a wink and a promise, a group of former educators, a young producing couple, and a newly minted TV star would change the relationship between children and reading.
When LeVar Burton became a household name following the breakout success of ROOTS, no one would have guessed that his second job, a PBS television show, would have had such an enduring impact on education. Pairing television and reading into a series seemed a daunting, if not impossible, task. But there was something about Burton’s ability to connect with children through the screen. Having kids do book reviews alongside the onsite exploration of story-related subjects engaged viewers in a way that made them feel they were along for the journey.
Representation was key. With the rotating cast of diverse child reviewers and seeing a loving and tender black man as the host, kids at home garnered self-esteem that they perhaps had not felt before. The film interviews Burton, the creators, and now adult viewers. We learn how the books were selected and how that iconic theme song came to fruition. Reading Rainbow will live in the memories of innumerable individuals. Butterfly In The Sky has the potential to light new sparks of fire for young and old readers alike. It’s a nostalgic warm hug and a brilliant highlight in Tribeca 2022.