Reading Rainbow is a renowned program for children hosted by LeVar Burton. For 25 years the show encouraged kids to read, exploring literature through themes, activities, and recommendations. Winning over 200 awards over the course of the show, it was sad to see it end in 2006, though now it seems it's making a comeback, in a different form.
RRKidz is the next generation of Reading Rainbow. Coming soon to Android, RRKidz will allow children to explore topics through voice-over books, videos, and games. LeVar Burton is the company's "Curator-in-Chief" and will be overseeing every detail of the project. The free app is not available yet, but will be soon on select Android devices. Full press release is after the break.
LeVar Burton Launches RRKidz, An Innovative Children’s Book Discovery Platform That Brings Reading Rainbow To The Digital Generation
Los Angeles, September 14, 2011 – As the host and producer of beloved children’s program Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton is responsible for generations of kids believing that “They Can Go Anywhere” through the joy of reading. Today, Burton announced the launch of RRKidz, a breakthrough reading, discovery and exploration platform that motivates today’s kids to experience literature via the digital devices they love. RRKidz will be available as a free app on iPad and select Android devices, offering hundreds of books via a subscription service and will be curated by Burton, providing the high level of trust parents seek.
“For 25 years Reading Rainbow gave me the opportunity to excite children about books and reading through the medium of television. With RRKidz, I will be able to bring that same spirit of discovery, imagination and adventure to today’s digitally connected kids through enhanced e-books,” said Burton. “RRKidz’ innovative platform allows us to deliver an incredibly exciting interactive storytelling experience through partnerships with leading publishers.”
Raymonds Capital, LLC, a private investment company, led the first investment round, which also includes the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the world’s largest foundations devoted to education and entrepreneurship.
“Teachers and parents grew up with LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow, and the thought of the brand coming back in a big new way is thrilling,” said John Raymonds, Raymonds Capital, LLC. “RRKidz empowers every parent to say yes to reading by making content more accessible and affordable for families.”
“We are convinced that LeVar and his team have identified an important way to put better content in the hands of parents and children through interactive media. What PBS once did with books and imagination, RRKidz can do with far more creative freedom today,” said Harold Bradley, Chief Investment Officer of the Kauffman Foundation.
Burton teamed with a multi-disciplinary group of industry veterans to create RRKidz. The senior management team includes Burton’s business partner, Co-Founder/Chief Strategy Officer Mark Wolfe, whose producing and executive credits include Terminator 3, K-19: The Widowmaker and Kinsey. RRKidz CEO Asra Rasheed is a highly experienced and successful entrepreneur in digital media; she was previously Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of video game rental service Gottaplay, as well as Co-Founder and President of digital publishing company Thumb Media Group. Chief Technology Officer Duc Haba hails from mobile analytics specialty firm Motally, recently acquired by Nokia. Sangita Patel serves as President of Digital Publishing and previously led business development initiatives at The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Ventures as well as publishing startups LibreDigital and WetFeet.com.
Headquartered in Los Angeles with an office in San Francisco, RRKidz (www.RRKidz.com) provides an enriching interactive platform for children to discover and explore exceptional digital media content. The RRKidz subscription app will be available via the iPad and select Android operating system devices. RRKidz holds global rights to the Reading Rainbow brand through a partnership with series creator, WNED-TV, a premier PBS station, based in Buffalo, NY. Follow RRKidz on www.twitter.com/RRKidz.
ABOUT RAYMONDS CAPITAL, LLC
Located in Warren, NJ, Raymonds Capital, LLC is a private investment company started by the Raymonds family in 2007. Closed to outside funds, it was built from a highly successful background in plastic packaging manufacturing. Raymonds Capital’s focus is investment in companies that have a unique story to tell. For more information, visit www.raymondscapital.com.
ABOUT THE EWING MARION KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship, innovation and education to grow economies and improve human welfare. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org, and follow the Foundation on www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.