Yesterday, I was thrilled to attend a sneak peek event in NYC to learn about the new Reading Rainbow App which was launched today. Everyone involved with the project was there to share and celebrate including LeVar Burton, host and producer of the original Reading Rainbow show.
“I come from a family teachers, and when I was offered the opportunity to host Reading Rainbow in 1983, I recognized immediately the value in using technology to inspire kids to read,” said Burton. “Reading will never go out of style, but the tools used for learning are changing. I am excited to bring Reading Rainbow back so that parents who watched the show can now share that same feel-good experience with their own children but on a platform that resonates with today’s digital kids.”
Designed for children 3-9 years of age, the App delivers a library of hundreds of curated books and all new videos presented in a world of adventure and discovery. Traveling to themed islands, such as Animal Kingdom, My Friends, My Family and Genius Academy, kids find a variety of books and videos customized to their age and interests. The App brings together books from numerous acclaimed children’s publishers. Launch partners include Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Holiday House, Charlesbridge Publishing, Kane Press, Sleeping Bear Press, Peachtree Publishers and Shenanigan Books.
Each book comes alive with audio storytelling by celebrity actors, including spoken word Grammy winner Burton himself, and features light animations and related activities to enhance the story.
Similar to the original series, children journey with Burton on exciting real-life adventures. These in-app video field trips connect the stories children read to the world they live in and use a combination of newly-produced video as well as classic segments from the TV show.
One of the App’s many features include a reward system in which children earn digital stickers to motivate a continued exploration of books and frequent reading. For parents, ReadingRainbow.com offers a companion website and dashboard to get updates regarding time their child spent reading, books read, and suggestions for new stories based on the child’s interests. Family Reading Time hints also provide opportunities to discuss themes and lessons explored in each book.
As of today’s launch-date, the App includes 150 books and 16 video field trips. New content will be added to the service on a regular and frequent basis.
“We’re excited to offer a safe experience designed just for kids,” said Asra Rasheed, RRKidz CEO. “We’ve created an easy-to-use subscription service for parents, allowing them to unlock the extensive Reading Rainbow library books and videos without the worry of approving and purchasing each item separately.”
The Reading Rainbow App is free for download on the iPad (an Android version is in the works!) and includes the ability to fully explore the App, the islands, videos and to select one book to read. The subscription price is $9.99 per month or $29.99 for six months at the App Store. That’s a decent value considering the price of just ONE quality children’s e-book.
The Reading Rainbow App is the inaugural project of RRKidz, Inc., a digital media company co-founded by Burton and entertainment veteran Mark Wolfe. “Throughout its more than two decades on television, Reading Rainbow enjoyed an exceptional reputation for children’s quality programming,” noted Wolfe. “That same focus – bringing together the best, most enriching, content for children, all in one place – is what the RRKidz is all about; now with the Reading Rainbow App and in the future with a wide array of new projects.”
Plans for 2012 include expanding the Reading Rainbow App library of content, launching it on new platforms and introducing new digital products to inspire children’s love of reading.
App screen shots: