It is no secret that every writer becomes a writer because of their love for reading. It is also no secret that most people develop a love for reading at an early age, usually from adults reading to them until they can learn how to read on their own. This is how it was for me.
My father and mother read to me from the beginning, and I began reading on my own by the age of four. I read my first novel, “The Hobbit”, by myself by five – after my father had read it to me dozens of times, doing the voices and singing the songs.
I had limited access to television and only three channels would come in on the rabbit ears: one local affiliate, a station that did nothing but reruns, and PBS.
So, there was also another adult who read to me all the time, starting around the age of four: Levar. Levar appeared on my television in a show called “Reading Rainbow” and told amazing stories that came to life in beautiful animations on the screen. He taught me to not only enjoy the story, but to question it and learn from it. Even the simplest book was an adventure in the making.
Levar always told me that if you could read it and imagine it – it would happen.
My limited television options led me to love another show as a child: “Star Trek”. Another magical adventure into a world of imagination. When a new “Star Trek” was coming, my parents made sure I knew about it. At seven I watched, bright eyed, as “Star Trek: The Next Generation” debuted – and I was floored. There was LeVar, inside a story – just like he said would happen. To the mind of a child the conclusion was inescapable: he read a story about “Star Trek”, imagined it, and it happened.
As I grew older, I understood that LeVar was an actor. But there was a part of me that always wanted to believe he imagined the tales of “Star Trek” and what we saw on the screen was the story in his mind. By the time I was an adult, I realized that, in a way, that is exactly what happened. It was LeVar’s love of arts and literature that led him to work in television, to become an actor, and it was that love which earned him the job as Geordi on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. His imagination did put him on the Enterprise.
So it was with no reservation that I pledged $110 to his Kickstarter this morning. The reward for that is a signed headshot of my choice. You would think I am going to get the Geordi one and have him autograph it with something related to “Star Trek”, right? No. I want one that is clearly LeVar, and I want him to write something about reading – because that is who LeVar will always be to me, the guy with an imagination so big he lived out a fantasy in the future, sailing the stars.
Please, help LeVar bring “Reading Rainbow” to a new generation – and generations to come. The show was cancelled five years ago, but the idea lives on in a tablet app and now he wants to bring it back as a web-based show that is free for as many schools and children as possible. He wants to introduce new generations to the joy of reading.
But you don’t have to take my word for it.