Let me preface these next few paragraphs by saying that this isn't really a review of LeVar Burton. It is more like a big thank you to the man from me. He had a very big impact on my life growing up, and this is the story of that impact.
When I was growing up in rural Louisiana back in the late 70's/early 80's, I didn't have many television channels to choose from when it was time to sit in front of the television. In fact, I really only had three channels to choose from: NBC, CBS, and PBS (LPB). If the weather was right, I lucked out and watched ABC or the local independent station that would eventually become the FOX affiliate. Of all of these channels, PBS spoke to me the most.
From educational shows like Sesame Street and 3-2-1 Contact and to a whole host of other short programs that ranged from the reading of popular classic stories to French lessons, LPB held my attention like no other channel. I quickly fell in love with shows like Square One, The Electric Company and Zoobilee Zoo.
Of all of these programs, Reading Rainbow proved to be the biggest inspiration in my life. Specifically, host LeVar Burton's enthusiastic flare for books, children, and the world around them is what captivated me the most.
Every time I watched Reading Rainbow, I listened intently as the featured book was read. I also enjoyed tracking down the suggested books at the end of each episode. Between the reading and the recommendations, Burton would showcase whatever the featured book's main focus was. For example, if the book was about a rainy day, Burton could be found looking out the window and watching it rain. He'd then enthusiastically suggest things to do or places to go on a rainy day adventure.
One episode that has stuck with me through the years is the one in which Burton visits the set of that other program he was on during part of Reading Rainbow's run. You might have heard of that program: Star Trek: The Next Generation. I specifically remember watching the FX crew show Burton how they "beamed" members of the Enterprise's crew by dropping glitter into a glass of water. I also remember the use of a razor as part of a transport vehicle.
With his encouragement on Reading Rainbow and his work on Star Trek: TNG, Burton triggered my imagination and made me seek out the wonderful world of books. While I've moved on to volumes a bit larger than Bringing The Rain To Kapiti Plain, I will never forget the impact that Mr. Burton had on my life.
As I've said on many occasions, "Outside of my mother, no one has impacted my love of reading as much as LeVar Burton."
Even though I highly doubt he'll ever read this, I just wanted to say, "Thank you."
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About the reviewer
Kendall Fontenot (kfontenot)
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. (born February 16, 1957), professionally known as LeVar Burton, is an American actor, director and author who first came to prominence portraying Kunta Kinte in the 1977 award-winning ABC television miniseries Roots, based on the novel by Alex Haley. He is also well known for his portrayal of Geordi La Forge on the syndicated science fiction series Star Trek: The Next Generation and as the host of the PBS children's program Reading Rainbow.