Festival of Books: Which LeVar Burton do you know, 'Roots' or 'Reading Rainbow'?

Patt Morrison can guess your age based on what role you recognize LeVar Burton from.

If it's his famous role in the miniseries "Roots," you're probably a Baby Boomer.


If it's Geordi La Forge, the sightless navigator in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," you're probably a Generation Xer.

But if you know Burton for his role as host of the immensely popular children's show, "Reading Rainbow," "You are an eternal kid and an eternal reader," said Morrison, who moderated a conversation with Burton in front of a packed auditorium Saturday afternoon during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

"Reading Rainbow" aired on television from 1983 to 2009, and is now back in digital form thanks to a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $1 million in 11 hours, Burton said.

"I was really floored by the response," he said. "It's a whole generation of adults now that recognize that there's nothing like 'Reading Rainbow' out there for kids today, and they see the value in what we're trying to do."

Burton said "Reading Rainbow" is trying to meet kids in the digital realm that they now frequently occupy. And instead of playing games, they're reading.

"I think it is impossible to reach your full potential as a human being without being a reader," he said.

Burton also read from the children's book he recently co-authored with Susan Schaefer Bernardo, "The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm," a book that helps children understand and cope with natural disasters.

"Fred Rogers [a.k.a. Mr. Rogers] was the guy who took it upon himself to address in an age-appropriate manner ... what it's like to grow up in a world dominated by, governed by adults," he said. "I believe he would have written a book about these times in which we live."

Check out the Festival of Books schedule for this weekend.



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