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Kickstarter Books Reading Rainbow Return Online

(AP) LeVar Burton's fundraising effort to bring WNED Ch. 17's "Reading Rainbow" to the online masses is a by-the-book success.

The goal of raising $1 million by July 2 was reached within hours of the campaign's launch Wednesday on Kickstarter, according to the website. More than 23,000 donors had pledged $1.1 million and counting.

Burton was the host of "Reading Rainbow," the children's literacy program that aired on public TV through 2009, and was created in partnership with WNED, the Buffalo area PBS affiliate which helped produce the program and included video reviews of various books by area elementary school kids. (including a future WBEN Newscaster- see below)

"It was my mother who taught me that, by picking up a book, I could `go anywhere' and `be anything,' " Burton said in a posting on Kickstarter.

Contributors can claim rewards ranging from autographed memorabilia to a private dinner with Burton to a chance to put on the visor that the actor wore on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

"We're not just getting pledges, but so much email love that our server froze," said Mark Wolfe, Burton's business partner. "I'm so happy to help. LeVar taught me to read," is among the typical messages, he said.

Burton and Wolfe hold the global rights to "Reading Rainbow" in partnership with the show's creator, public TV station WNED in Buffalo, New York, according to a release.

A tablet version of "Reading Rainbow" was released in 2012 and became a top-selling education app. It provides access to hundreds of books and Burton's videotaped "field trips" to historic and other places, said Wolfe, who co-founded the for-profit RRKidz company with Burton.

The Kickstarter campaign is intended to help bring an online version to more children for a $5 monthly subscription fee, Wolfe said. Many more families have access to computers than tablets, he said.

An educator-specific format will be created for schools and made available free to at least 1,500 of the neediest classrooms, RRKidz said

WEB EXTRA: Watch a Vintage Reading Rainbow via vimeo and WPVT
from 1983 featuring then future WBEN Newsman Tom Puckett at approx 21 minutes into the episode

Tight Times from WVPT on Vimeo.

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Locations : BuffaloNew YorkReading
People : LeVar BurtonMark Wolfe
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