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Reading Rainbow Kickstarter could bring app to consoles, mobile, set-top boxes

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

LeVar Burton's Kickstarter campaign to bring back Reading Rainbow has already proved phenomenally successful, and the project's organizers are now looking to take the project to gaming consoles, mobile devices and other places.

The educational program originated as Reading Rainbow, a Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning children's television series that was hosted by Burton and aired on PBS from 1983 to 2006. Burton relaunched it as an iPad app in 2011, and launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this week to bring Reading Rainbow to the web and to schools everywhere. The funding drive had a goal of $1 million, which would have allowed the Reading Rainbow organization to provide the software for free to 1,500 schools in need.

Contributors blew past the original goal in 11 hours. As of this writing, less than three full days since the beginning of the campaign, it has pulled in more than $2.85 million from over 64,000 backers. In a Kickstarter update posted this afternoon, Burton announced a stretch goal of $5 million.

"With $5 million, we can get to mobile, we can do Android, we can definitely do Xbox, we can do set-top boxes. And," said Burton in a video for backers, "we can get to at least 7,500 schools for free."

According to the update, the stretch goal would allow for the Reading Rainbow team to put an app on devices such as PlayStation and Xbox consoles; Android smartphones and tablets; and set-top boxes like the Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV. The Reading Rainbow organization has plans for higher stretch goals in case the campaign hits $5 million — there are potential goals such as bringing Reading Rainbow to public libraries and including foreign-language books.

The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign still has 32 days to go; it will end at 3 p.m. ET on July 2.