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Now you can recapture the joy of Reading Rainbow with LeVar Burton’s new book club.

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May 12, 2021, 11:37am

Generations of readers who fondly recall Reading Rainbow are in luck: LeVar Burton can be your reading guide once again. Burton is launching his own book club (for adults!) in partnership with the new book club platform Fable, a social platform that “deliver[s] the world’s best social experience with exceptional stories in service of mental wellness.”

Burton’s first three book club selections are James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and the Jesmyn Ward-edited essay and poem collection The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race. “For me, if I’m going to start a book club, I’m going to begin with who I am and my story as a reader,” said Burton to Entertainment Weekly. “Obviously, there are hundreds of books that have shaped my identity as a reader, and these three are really representative of an important aspect of that journey for me. James Baldwin is a fundamental figure in my literary awakening, and [Go Tell It on the Mountain] is his origin story . . . Octavia Butler is a foundational figure in my love for science fiction . . . the essays and the pieces that Jesmyn has compiled are informative, illustrative, and enlightening of the Black experience in America.”

For Burton, this book club has been a long time coming: his passion for communal reading stems from long before Reading Rainbow, to his childhood with an English teacher for a mother. “[My mother’s] example and her insistence that reading and the written word be a consistent part of our lives when my sisters and I were growing up not only shaped my attitude toward reading but really fostered a discovery of worlds that were inaccessible to me previously,” Burton told EW. “In addition, she also stressed the importance of education as the tool I would need in my life to compete on a level playing field with what I refer to as my melanin-challenged brethren and sistren. One of the vestiges of chattel slavery and the amount of pain, suffering and damage it has done to the Black community is a concentrated lack of focus on the education of the Black community . . . In promoting education, I feel like I am doing what is within my power to mitigate those generations of damage. Reading is good for us.”

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