Perhaps this is old news to those of you with kids, but I just learned that Reading Rainbow ended its 26-year run several weeks ago.
I have fond memories of watching that show alongside Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, and I'm certain that it--along with some parental encouragement--helped foster my lifelong love of reading, writing, language, and literature. Heck, I fondly remember watching tapes of Reading Rainbow when I was home sick from school, and I can still remember dozens of particular episodes.
Apparently the show's cancellation was brought on by a shift in spending from trying to get kids interested in reading to an emphasis in the teaching of phonics and the like.
Grant says that [the Public Broadcasting Service], [the Corporation for Public Broadcasting] and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read -- but that's not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do.
"Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read," Grant says. "You know, the love of reading -- [the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read."
I'm no expert, but to me this just seems like the wrong way to go about it. What a shame.
Fact is, I couldn't care less whether kids learn to read. There, I said it.
Look, Reading Rainbow was a television program. That should tell you something right there. What I should have done is hosted a show that taught children how to watch more television. I bet they would have come up with the funding to renew that show.
All I've done for 26 years is drive to work, clock in, read my lines, clock out, go home, and cry myself to sleep. Now I'm much older, a broken man, but I've reached the end of my terrifying journey. And do you know what's at the end? Do you what's at the end of the "Reading Rainbow"? A giant crock of shit, that's what.
Well, once again we find that clowning and anarchy don't mix.
Based on what I've been told by a colleague who spoke to someone associated with the show, it's not about money at all. It is indeed, as the OP notes, about teaching the mechanics of reading rather than the joy of it.
One of my favorite shows as a kid. But you don't have to take my word for it! (Ba-dow-dow!)
If the OP is correct about the reason the show was cancelled, that is highly unsettling. I believe teaching the joy of reading is more important than teaching the mechanics. How would you expect kids to put the effort into learning the mechanics of reading if they don't see the point in it? If you teach them to love reading first, the mechanics will follow. Not the other way around.
I didn't know it was cancelled, but I bet it will swing back. The show is still in heavy rotation here (SF bay area), reruns and all. I dig the old early 90s get ups! Plus now I recognize a lot of those voices reading the stories.
And since the new "Electric Company" is probably the new baby, I must say it is an awesome show. Even though they don't showcase books they do teach mechanics (way better than the old one, but that show was ahead of it's time and those guys had too much fun doing it). I like the whole "Bossy R" song and "Hard G, Soft G" segments. The linguist in me rejoices.