Beloved actor and host of “Reading Rainbow,” LeVar Burton will be the keynote speaker at the 2022 NJEA convention Nov. 10-11 in Atlantic City.
Burton launched his acting career while still a student at the University of Southern California. Cast in the breakthrough role of Kunta Kinte in the historical TV series “Roots”, at 19 he found himself on the cover of Time magazine. A seemingly impossible act to follow, Burton managed to do it in spectacular fashion, achieving further worldwide fame as chief engineer Geordi La Forge in the iconic TV series and feature films “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. But it’s his role as host and executive producer of the beloved PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow that he’s most proud of. Airing from 1983 to 2009, it was not only one of the longest-running children’s television shows in history, but also one of the most acclaimed, winning over 200 awards, including multiple Emmys and a Peabody. . He is also the host and executive producer of the game show “Trivial Pursuit”.
Always committed to improving children’s education through innovative uses of storytelling, in 2012 Burton launched RRKidz, a digital educational publishing company, co-founded with business partner Mark Wolfe. Together, they own the worldwide rights to the “Reading Rainbow” brand through a partnership with series creator, WNED/Buffalo. “Reading Rainbow” has been redesigned to combine today’s forms of media and technology with the goal of inspiring a new generation of children to love reading.
The all-new Reading Rainbow is a digital reading service packed with over 500 children’s fiction and non-fiction books, new field video releases, and new content added weekly. With over 16 million books and videos enjoyed since its launch, Reading Rainbow is the number one educational app on iTunes and has received numerous awards.
More recently, Burton turned to Kickstarter to bring Reading Rainbow to “Every Child, Everywhere”, especially to classrooms in need. The campaign reached its 35-day goal of raising $1 million in less than 11 hours. It became the most popular Kickstarter campaign of all time with over 105,000 backers and a final tally of over $6.4 million. Accordingly, in 2015, RRKidz will introduce Reading Rainbow EDU, with additional engaging learning content for teachers and students.
In October 2014, Reading Rainbow published Burton’s first children’s book,The rhino who swallowed a storma powerful and uplifting story to help children cope with the challenges of everyday life.
The honored recipient of 12 Emmys, a Grammy, and five NAACP Awards, Burton has demonstrated throughout his career that he can do it all: act, direct, produce, write, and speak. He is a frequent guest speaker at leading educational and technology events, most recently speaking at NASA, ISTE, the National Headstart Association and many others.
And in 2014, as he was clamored for recognition by educational groups, professional organizations and the media for the record Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, Burton was named Geek of the Year at the annual Geekie Awards, was listed as one of theEbonymagazine’s Power 100 and won the World Tech Award for Education, presented by the World Technology Network.
He is now entering his fourth decade in the industry, with millions of fans around the world, and continues his mission to inspire, entertain and educate.