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OF, BY AND FOR THE CHILDREN

'Reading Rainbow' marks a 10-year journey with books leading the way

July 11, 1993|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Reading Rainbow, the very epitome of the "reading is fun" adage, turns 10 this week. At its debut, the series was viewed as a "summer reading program" but now has evolved into a daily show with an audience of 8 million youngsters.

"It portrays reading in a fun light," says longtime host LeVar Burton. "It's a fun activity and presents reading as an adventure."

"Reading Rainbow" also gives kids the opportunity to see parts of the country they normally wouldn't.

"We're on location for each show," says Burton. "Every book suggests to us some theme to explore, which we do in a very hands-on way, enriching ourselves through travel."

Burton says he's constantly amazed at the impact the show has on kids.

"I am continually hearing 'my favorite author is . . . ' and that just blows me away," he says, "To be that sophisticated so as to recognize the voice of a writer and to align yourself with that voice as a child is outrageous!"

The "Reading Rainbow" schedule accommodates Burton's "Star Trek: The Next Generation" schedule. "During the 'Star Trek' season, we come west and shoot in Southern and Northern California, Arizona and Wyoming," he says.

In the works is a "Reading Rainbow" prime-time special. Burton hopes the show continues to help kids along the way.

"My commitment to the show is to do it as long as there is a need," he emphasizes. "As long as we are in danger of losing touch with the written word in our lifetime, I'll be there."

"Reading Rainbow" airs Monday through Thursday at 4 p.m. on KCET (new episodes set to air in October); weekdays at 9:30 a.m. on KOCE and 3 p.m. on KPBS; weekdays at 1 p.m. on KLCS, with repeats Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30 p.m. For ages 6 to 10.

MORE FAMILY SHOWS

Twins Brenda and Brandon's TV dad on "Beverly Hills, 90210," James Ekhouse, reads tales on Storytime (Sunday 7-7:30 p.m., repeats Friday at 7:30 a.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m. KCET). Ekhouse will read "Noisy Nora" and "The Seven Chinese Brothers" to the kids in the studio audience. For ages 2 to 8.

Believe it or not, Popeye turns 60 this week. In honor of that illustrious day, the Cartoon Network airs six "popumentary" miniseries profiling the spinach-loving guy (Monday-Saturday at 5 p.m.). For those who are interested in oddities, the strangest Popeye toons will be shown weeknights from 11:30 to midnight. For ages 2 and up.

He had plenty of good information on babies, and now Your Child 6 to 12 With Dr. Kyle Pruett (Tuesday 9-9:30 a.m. Lifetime) has the award-winning author and clincal Yale professor of psychiatry offering tips for parents of children age 6 to 12. The show will air on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. For parents.

The White Rabbit takes his leap down the hole in the 1986 version of Alice in Wonderland (Part 1, Thursday, and Part 2, Friday, 1-2:35 p.m. Disney) with Natalie Gregory, Telly Savalas, Imogene Coca, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Channing, Ringo Starr, Ann Jillian, Karl Malden, Sally Struthers, Eydie Gorme, Donna Mills and more. The miniseries is a version of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice Through the Looking Glass." For ages 4 and up.

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