Burton as Kunta Kinte
Roots Burton as Geordi
The Next Generation
LeVar Burton will deliver the General Session keynote on Sunday, April 21, 2013, at the International Reading Association (IRA) 58th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Burton is the recipient of 12 Emmy Awards, a Grammy, and 5 NAACP awards. The actor first earned kudos for his work as Kunta Kinte in the award-winning miniseries Roots. He went on to originate the role of Geordi LaForge in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series.
Burton, a long-time literacy advocate, became the host of the popular public television series Reading Rainbow in 1983. The show ran for 21 seasons.
A children’s show that encouraged literacy in fun ways, Reading Rainbow won over 200 broadcast awards including a Peabody Award and twenty-six Emmy Awards during its run. The show featured picture books read by celebrities, scenes that applied books’ lessons to real life, and book reviews from children. Many episodes of the original series can be downloaded from iTunes.
“I come from a family of teachers, and when I was offered the opportunity to host Reading Rainbow in 1983, I recognized immediately the value in using technology to inspire kids to read,” says Burton.
That appreciation for technology led to Burton rebooting the series last summer—as an app for the iPad. On June 20, 2012, the Reading Rainbow App was released; it became the #1 educational app on iTunes within 36 hours. Built from the ground up by Burton and his company, RRKIDZ, the app allows children to read unlimited books, explore video field trips starring Burton, and earn rewards for reading. The company partnered with leading publishers such as Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Abrams Books, Charlesbridge and Sleeping Bear Press, among others, to offer cherished children’s book titles through the app.
"This [app] gives me the opportunity to continue to do what I've done for over 25 years—put technology to use in turning kids on to good books," Burton explains. "In the 1980s, television was the obvious choice when it came to reaching an audience of children, but today's kids are digital natives. Tablet computers are brilliant devices for the medium of storytelling."
“Reading will never go out of style,” he says. “But the tools used for learning are changing.”
To learn more about Burton follow his Twitter feed @levarburton and read the RRKIDZ/Reading Rainbow Twitter feed, Facebook page, and blog. For more information about Burton and other presenters at the IRA Annual Convention, visit www.iraconvention.org.