A dream of reading for a new generation

I’m not usually big on crowd sourcing efforts. Those are campaigns online where people post a project and ask complete strangers to contribute financially to get them off the ground.

Some projects can be really good, while others, like raising money to make potato salad, are questionable at best, and, at worst, should be avoided at all times.

It’s all a matter of personal tastes, though, and whether people want to do their research before pulling out their credit cards and checkbooks.

One recent crowd sourcing project, through the Kickstarter website, I’m glad to see become a huge success.

Going back to my own childhood, and lasting up until a few years ago, there was a television program called “Reading Rainbow.”

LeVar Burton, whom some may recognize from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” hosted the program for decades, encouraging literacy in the children of our nation, presenting stories to stoke the imagination of our youth.

Quite frankly, it’s the type of programming we don’t see much of these days, but should have available on a more regular basis.

Over the last couple of months, Mr. Burton used Kickstarter in the hopes of raising enough money to bring back “Reading Rainbow” for future generations.

It won’t be on television, though. Instead, the production group will be using today’s technology to make it even more widely available, with programs on the Internet, mobile devices, tablets and other electronic formats.

The initial goal had been $1 million, which was surpassed in the first 11 hours of the campaign going live.

In the month that followed, through Kickstarter and other direct contributions, the campaign was able to raise close to $6.5 million.

That total includes more than $5.4 million through Kickstarter, $70,000 in direct contributions and a $1 million contribution from actor/comedian/producer Seth MacFarlane (the creator of “Family Guy”).

Now, this is to help get everything going. There will most likely be a subscription process to continue funding its operation.

The fact there has been so much support, though, is what’s great to me. This television program impacted the lives of probably millions of individuals over the last 30 years. To know it is going to be able to continue, in some form, and be available to children of all backgrounds, income levels and geographies, with the opportunity to reach them whether they are at home, in school or even on vacation, gives me some measure of hope for the future.

We all need to read, and it should be something we can enjoy as well as use during our everyday lives.

We not only learn through reading, but it also encourages us to use our imaginations, to dream, to create.

The written word really can be an amazing thing, helping us to communicate, to record, to teach.

Language and reading are among those things that tie our cultures together. They should be encouraged at every opportunity, and I, for one, am glad “Reading Rainbow,” no matter the format, will be available for our youth for many years to come.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)