The beloved children's show "Reading Rainbow" is returning after more than 15 years off the air. The updated version of the show will be called "Reading Rainbow Live," and will feature "a diverse, talented and comedic troupe of young performers" as hosts, the program's creators told "CBS Mornings."
"Reading Rainbow" originally aired in 1983, and was hosted by actor LeVar Burton. But the show's return comes as parents have struggled to balance remote schooling and other activities during the pandemic. "Reading Rainbow Live" was "developed as a 'life-saver' response to this challenge," executive producer Steven Beer said in a news release.
"We know it was a tough pandemic for parents, for caregivers, for teachers. We wanted to make sure that we have kids engaging with books and we're going to use movement and music to engage kids in learning. And we really want kids to see themselves in the books that we're choosing, and we're going to use diverse creators, authors, illustrators, settings," creative director Amy Guglielmo told CBS News national correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.
The updated version of Reading Rainbow will stick with the structure of the original version's 25-minute episodes, educating young viewers through music, field trips, cultural explorations and a book of the day, the release said.
The new group of hosts will be known as the "Rainbows," the release said. Producers are still searching for one more performer to round out the group, and the cast will be announced in the coming weeks.
When asked about the decision to have multiple hosts, Guglielmo said the show's creators "really want kids and viewers to see themselves on this show."
"We think the rainbow, this fun and diverse ensemble cast, will allow children to just identify with these hosts, and it's just a totally new experience and it's truly an experience," she said.
Unlike the original version, young viewers will be able to engage with the live show via a virtual platform.
"Whether they are asking questions of a cast member, following along to a dance routine, or being rewarded for answering a question correctly, viewers will be motivated to participate, and parents will be gratified knowing that their children are being entertained and intellectually stimulated," the news release said.
Guglielmo said the show will launch in early 2022.
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