Guest Blog from Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton: I Love Teachers

Reading Rainbow - LeVar BurtonI love teachers! Teachers are generally some of my favorite people. Mostly because they understand fully well the value of making an investment in another human being! Also because I believe that a passionate teacher has the power to literally change the world by simply sharing that passion with his or her students. The “teaching gene” as I like to call it, seems to run in my family; my elder sister, my son and two nieces are all educators, so I feel I come by that tendency honestly.

My mother, Erma Gene Christian, was a teacher of English at the High School level until I came into the world and subsequently, she became my first teacher. It is because of her that I love books and reading the way I do. In fact, the primary reason I accepted the offer to host Reading Rainbow was a way of honoring my mother.  One of my most indelible memories as a child is that of my mother’s nightstand overflowing with stacks and stacks of books. Throughout my childhood, mom always had several books going simultaneously, switching from one to the other seamlessly, deriving pleasure from each turn of the page, no matter what the genre. That was a curious characteristic of my mom’s reading habits, and I have never known my mother to not finish a book that she has begun. Her tenacity as a reader is only outmatched by her voraciousness and an eternal quest for variety in what she reads. Additionally, as we were growing up, my mother not only read to my sisters and me, she also read in front of us. Then as well as now, my mother’s favorite activity is curling up with a good book.

It occurs to me that I probably learned everything I need to know in life from observing my mother’s reading habits. These days I look to match up the things people say, with the things those same people do. All of my life, in countless conversations, my mother stressed the importance of my applying myself to the best of my ability and getting a good education, all the while relentlessly pursuing her own path to knowledge. I learned the value of variety in one’s life and the joy of spending at least some time each day doing what one loves. Finally, I learned that one does not quit what one begins, be it books, or projects, or people.

These days, Erma Gene can still be found curling up with a good book but more likely than not, that book is on her Kindle Fire or iPad mini, because like her son; my mother doesn’t care what the delivery system is, as long as she has the space and grace in her life to read.

Thanks MOM, for the lessons…

And a very Happy Mother’s Day to you all… But you don’t have to take my word for it!

LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow continue their 30 year mission of inspiring kids to read.

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  1. Brambles says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this post and your public conduct in general, Mr. Burton!

    My grandparents, both paternal and maternal, have always put great effort into fostering a sense of adventure in their grandchildren; I am fortunate that they were open-minded enough to include the travel of ‘the mind’s eye’ and the potential of the written word in that definition. My parents carried this mentality forward, and I intend to do the same.

    To that end, Reading Rainbow has always been a beloved show in our household. The mixed media segments and energetic, catchy audio direction did wonders to hold the attention of children and adults alike, and the novel (pun intended!) subject matter and approach to life/curiosity/exploration were things every one could appreciate. In our family, reading and the ensuing investment in learning (and by extension, the world around the reader) crosses all demographic and geographic barriers. I think in part I have you to thank for that great blessing.

    Thanks again, Mr. Burton. It also warmed my heart to hear of your mother’s love of her Kindle, as my late grandmother cherished hers; my mother now uses that same device and as cheesy as it sounds, it is comforting to believe that reading on that Kindle brings us closer to Grandmother — on many levels, ranging from intellectual to philosophical.

    Have a great day!


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