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New Documentary Tells The Story Of LeVar Burton’s Iconic '80s Show ‘Reading Rainbow’

New Documentary Tells The Story Of LeVar Burton’s Iconic '80s Show ‘Reading Rainbow’

The show is one of the first efforts at distance learning!

A new documentary tells the story of LeVar Burton’s iconic 80’s television show, Reading RainbowBlack Enterprise reports. 

A new documentary, Butterfly in the Sky, about the story of legendary television show Reading Rainbow, is currently in production. The film, from XTR studios, chronicles the popular show hosted by LeVar Burton and the journey of all those who made it possible, including broadcasters, educators, and filmmakers. 

Reading Rainbow aired for 26 years, fueled by Burton and the producers’ belief that television could inspire a love for reading in children. The show first aired in 1983, earning more than 250 awards over its near three-decade run, including 26 Emmys and a Peabody Award. The new documentary takes its inspiration from films like “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” a movie about the life of Mister Rogers, and “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story.” Butterfly in the Sky features interviews with Burton, those who had a hand in its production, and archival footage. 

The film is executive produced by XTR’s Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob, and Kathryn Everett, directed by Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb (GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). Sidestilt Films (HBO, Netflix) and Bryan Storkel (Alabama Snake) also serve as producers. The goal is to pay homage to the show’s legacy and introduce the legendary show to younger generations. 

“We are honored to tell the Reading Rainbow story and document the show’s incredible work to increase literacy for children around the world. Decades later, the impact of Reading Rainbow still lives on through my lifelong love of reading which I share with my own kids,” Lacob said. 

The show has captured the cultural zeitgeist of the ’80s and gone on to gain more fame with each passing year. During the coronavirus pandemic, when students were forced to pivot to virtual learning, many referred to the pioneering show as one of the first successful examples of distance learning. The impact of Burton and the iconic show are still reverberating now with multiple covers and remixes of the theme song, parodies, and hundreds of posts daily on Twitter about the genius that was Reading Rainbow

Reading Rainbow was my window into the big city and into diverse cultures. With segments like those in “Hill of Fire,” “Liang and the Magic Paintbrush,” and countless other episodes, Reading Rainbow was arguably the first time I encountered “documentary-style” television as a young person, planting a seed that would inspire me for the rest of my life and lead me to where I am in my career to this day,” Whitcomb, director and cinematographer on the project, said. 

Co-director and editor Bradford Thomason echoed those sentiments, saying, “As a Mexican-American growing up in Houston, I was always surrounded by diversity. More than any show on television, Reading Rainbow reflected the cultures that surrounded me. When the book fair came to my school, I went straight for the Reading Rainbow titles. I didn’t know it at the time, but the show’s mission statement was manifesting itself in me. I devour books to this day, and I know Reading Rainbow had a hand in that.”

Butterfly in the Sky is currently in production. No word yet on when it will be released, but we are excited!

Photo Courtesy of Screenrant