The PBS show ‘Reading Rainbow’ ended its 26 year run on Friday. Not surprisingly, lack of funds was partially to blame. But it also had to do with a shift in attitude towards reading, one which doesn’t bode well for the future of the publishing industry. NPR interviewed John Grant of WNED Buffalo, Reading Rainbow’s home station, about the end of the show:
Grant says the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading – like phonics and spelling.
Grant says that PBS, CPB 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.”