Read these words . . . and it’s instant recognition.
Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high . . . is the opening to the theme song for the iconic series Reading Rainbow. And now more reading and more rainbows are on hand since PBS Distribution has released four episodes from the series on the new DVD If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
For those who like neither reading nor rainbows, we offer sympathy and a brief history. Since 1983, the beloved children’s television series Reading Rainbow has been bringing stories to life. The show aired on PBS from 1983-2009; hosted by LeVar Burton for its entire 26-year run, the program encouraged a love of literature in millions of children and garnered more than 200 awards, including 26 Emmys and a Peabody Award.
Burton will be honored with the Chicago Tribune’s Annual Young Adult Literary Award, to be presented at Printers Row Lit Fest on June 6 . . . which happens to be the 32nd anniversary of the first episode of Reading Rainbow.
Burton credits his mother, an English teacher, with his love for reading.
“Acting is how I make a living,” he says. “Promoting literacy, especially in children, is my vocation. I really believe in what I’m doing. I really believe in the power and the promise of it. I know and am fully aware how being a reader has contributed to my life and my well-being.”
Reading Rainbow has helped children build lasting relationships with books at home and in the classroom. The four episodes and books, featured in this DVD, are “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” (read by Beth Howland); “Owen” (read by Matthew Broderick); “Two Old Potatoes and Me” (read by Jordan Puryear); and “Mr. George Baker” (read by Wayne Brady).
“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”
One thing leads to another in this episode, with LeVar in a bowling alley, showing how certain actions lead to consequences. Included is a piece on an expert at domino displays and domino art. “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” is the tale of a little boy who offers a cookie to a mouse, and all the events that occur afterwards as a result.
It’s easy to get flashbacks while watching Reading Rainbow. Now it’s LeVar’s turn, as he gets in touch with visions of “his boyhood.” “Owen” is about a little mouse who’s very attached to his security blanket and doesn’t want to give it up, even if it means he will be teased when he starts school.
“Two Old Potatoes and Me”
This story is about a girl who works with her father to recycle two old potatoes by replanting them using the sprouts to grow a whole new crop of potatoes. Burton, working with his daughter, is inspired to make a potato dish from a recipe in the book.
“Mr. George Baker”
Wayne Brady narrates the story of an elderly man who decides to go back to school to learn to read, even though he is almost 100, and his relationship with his young neighbor as they wait for the bus every day.