Actor and director LeVar Burton is renowned for his exploration of Black history in the television adaptation of Roots and journeys in space with Star Trek: The Next Generation. But for two generations, he is best known as the host of our favorite television story hour Reading Rainbow. How many of you can still recall the theme song? In honor of his 65th birthday, and the impact he had on so many of our childhoods, I'm recommending contemporary picture books I think he might pair with the classics introduced on the show.
Some of you may have heard If You Give A Mouse A Cookie for the very first time on Reading Rainbow. Today, I think Burton might pair this yummy cause and effect comedy with Thank You, Omu!, the tasty tale of what happens when a stew is so delicious the entire neighborhood shows up to sample just one bite. Although The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog! is a mouth-watering second option starring a very hungry pigeon and the object of his desire - a hot dog that is almost too good to share.
Many folktales were shared on the show; one of my favorites was Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. I think he might pair this original African folktale alongside La Princesa and the Pea, a bilingual reimagining of a familiar European tale. Or perhaps he would pair it with A Big Mooncake for Little Star, an original folk tale about the phases of the moon.
On one of his favorite episodes of Reading Rainbow, Burton shared artist Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach, the story of a young girl's dream of soaring over her neighborhood. Today, I think Burton might also share Dream Street, a celebration of the Black neighborhood in Boston where two cousins - who are the real life author and illustrator of this story - grew up. Or maybe he would pair it with Magic Candies, the imaginative adventure of what a young boy learns when his magic candy gifts him the ability to hear the thoughts of household furniture, pets and family members alike.
While you're at it, don't forget that Burton is an author, too! Be sure to check out The Rhino Who Swallowed A Storm with the message, "You're never really alone when bad things happen."
Were any of your favorite stories shared by LeVar Burton?