'Reading Rainbow' For The Next Generation

Education GeekMom
© Reading Rainbow
© Reading Rainbow

A new Reading Rainbow DVD is out now, ready to give parents all the nostalgia of sitting in front of the TV and singing along with the theme song. While the show itself may be outdated, Reading Rainbow is moving ahead into the age of the internet with the robust online app Skybrary. Skybrary puts a library of hundreds of books and educational videos new and old at children’s fingertips, making for another great way to get in some invaluable reading time this summer.

© PBS Kids
© PBS Kids

Reading Rainbow: Animal Café

This affordable new collection features four classic Reading Rainbow episodes from the 1980s and 1990s. As time has passed, “Animal Café,” the titular episode, has turned into a historical look at the New York City of the 1980s, complete with a synth electronic soundtrack and glimpses of parts of the city that aren’t there any longer. The always entertaining Martin Short reads the picture book of the same name. The one-of-a-kind Gilda Radner narrates the book on the second episode of the DVD.

Classic Reading Rainbow episodes may be too slow and quiet for most kids of this generation, who are accustomed to the frenetic pace of current cartoons and the bite-sized entertainment of viral videos. But if you’re looking for some quiet time with a healthy dose of nostalgia, Reading Rainbow: Animal Café is a great reminder of life in the 80s along with all the enthusiasm about literacy you’d expect from the show.


Skybrary, the app for Reading Rainbow, also includes classic clips from episodes of the past along with new, current educational videos starring LeVar Burton. I came across a gem of a clip, a behind-the-scenes look at Star Trek: The Next Generation.

© Reading Rainbow
I would also make this face if I saw the model of the Enterprise up close. © Reading Rainbow

More importantly, Skybrary features hundreds of quality picture books, which kids can read to themselves or hear narrated. True to Reading Rainbow‘s style, the narration is slow and clear and some illustrations move with simple animations. Kids can turn the pages at their own pace, giving them time to work through words on their own or look longer at the pictures. Some books even include a discussion question for reading comprehension and a glossary for more difficult words.

There is definitely a varied, robust collection of books, with new content added weekly. Use of the site does require a subscription, starting at $9.99 for one month, but you can check out the site for 14 days at no cost. You’re also not limited to the computer screen to use Skybrary; you can even download the app to your tablet or smartphone and access the content on the go.

If a digital library at your kids’ fingertips appeals to you, or you’d love to share the magic of Reading Rainbow you experienced as a kid, give the Skybrary trial a try.

GeekMom received a promotional copy of the DVD and access to Skybrary for review purposes.

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