Reading Rainbow was an American children's television series that aired on PBS from June 6, 1983, until November 10, 2006, that encouraged reading by children. The public television series garnered over 200 broadcast awards, including a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards, 11 of which were in the "Outstanding Children's Series" category. The series was created under the leadership of Cecily Truett Lancit and Larry Lancit, at Lancit Media Productions in New York. The concept of a reading series for children originated with Twila Liggett, Ph.D., and Paul Schupbach, of the Great Plains National Instructional Television Library at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; and Tony Buttino, of WNED-TV Buffalo, New York. The original team included Lynne Brenner Ganek, Ellen Schecter, and host LeVar Burton. Each episode centered on a theme from a book, or other children's literature, which was explored through a number of segments or stories. The show also recommended books for kids to look for when they went to the library. It is the third-longest running children's series in PBS history, after Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street. It was also one of the first PBS shows to be broadcast in stereo.
Where to Watch Reading Rainbow
Where to stream every episode from all 21 seasons of Reading Rainbow. Filter these episodes by what's available to watch free or on your streaming services using the tabs above.
Season 1Amazon Prime | PBS Kids | Rent or Buy
S01 E02Jun 7, 1983
Miss Nelson Is Back Jun 7, 1983 As part of his birthday celebration, LeVar gets made-up like a movie monster, and then gets involved in Harry Blackstone's magic act. Ruth Buzzi reads Miss Nelson Is Back, all about a group of rowdy students who try to take advantage of their teacher's absence when she's out sick one day, and how she gets revenge on them by pretending to be "the meanest teacher in the world, Viola Swamp."
S01 E03Jun 8, 1983
Bea and Mr. Jones Jun 8, 1983 LeVar is already worn out after working on several scenes all day long on the production of the series. He feels he needs to take on another identity, segueing into introducing the featured book, Bea and Mr. Jones. Madeline Kahn reads the book about a kindergarten student and her father who get so bored with their jobs that they decide to experiment by switching places for the day.
S01 E06Jun 13, 1983
Digging Up Dinosaurs Jun 13, 1983 Technically not the first science-related show in its history, LeVar seeks a place where archaeologists retrieve dinosaur bones. At the end of the program, LeVar buries a time capsule, containing (among other things) a can of old Coke and his picture. Linda Gilman reads Digging Up Dinosaurs, a story about how paleontologists unearth dinosaurs skeletons and preserve them in museum exhibits.
Season 2Amazon Prime | Rent or Buy
S02 E01Sep 3, 1984
Hot-Air Henry Sep 3, 1984 LeVar goes to South Carolina to ride a hot-air balloon. In another study of how air travel has advanced, schoolchildren visit the Space Camp for Aspiring Young Astronauts. William Windom reads the story of Hot-Air Henry, the misadventures of a cat who sneaks on board his family's hot air balloon and how he gets back down again.