Nearly a generation of children got turned on to reading by LeVar Burton during 155 episodes of the PBS television series Reading Rainbow. The creative minds behind that successful series, which ran from 1983 to 2006, are behind a new venture called RRKidz that plans to apply the concepts behind Reading Rainbow to iPad apps.
With the iPad, Burton and his team at RRKidz will be able to engage children in reading by not only having them watch video content, but also interact with that content. The first app that RRKidz will produce will allow children to explore topics in a multi-media environment that includes voice-over enhanced books, videos of Burton at familiar locations related to the topics, and games. Burton’s goal with this venture is to get kids hooked on books.
RRKidz is not only working on engaging content, but is also developing the platform that will help them produce that content quickly. Burton says that RRKidz has technology that will enable it to produce a book with voice-over, light animation, and games in a matter of hours. Similar content produced by traditional means can take weeks, if not months, to produce.
As part of PBS, Reading Rainbow depended on donations from corporate sponsors to fund the production of the 30 minute show. RRKidz plans to charge a monthly subscription fee for full access to all of their content. It is evident by their focus on developing the tools to quickly produce episodes that RRKidz recognizes that a big catalog is important to gaining subscribers. I suspect, however, that leveraging the Reading Rainbow brand will be equally valuable in attracting subscribers.
Right now information about when RRKidz’s first product will appear is not available. If you are interested to getting updates, you can provide an e-mail address on their web site or I suggest following Levar Burton on Twitter.