PBS’ programming has changed a lot over the years since the network first hit the air. Through all of the changes in its programming lineup, there have been some shows that have remained fan favorites among the network’s legions of fans. Those shows include the likes of Wishbone, Sesame Street, and Reading Rainbow are just a few of those shows. There are plenty of other classics that remain favorites among audiences today. The specifically noted shows are just a few of the network’s most popular series to date. The latter of that trio of series went off the air almost ten years ago. Though, it did make its somewhat triumphant return online roughly a year or so ago much to the surprise and even dismay of some. Thankfully for those hoping for its return to television, PBS Kids and BS Distribution released a pair of DVDs this summer containing a handful of classic Reading Rainbow episodes. The first of the DVDs, Reading Rainbow: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, was released this past May. The second collection, Reading Rainbow: Animal Café, was released June 30th. This collection is even more of a must have for long-time Reading Rainbow fans as the prior release. The main reason for this is its episodes. Three of the collection’s four episodes originally aired in 1985. That was when Reading Rainbow was still very much in its infancy. Older audiences will get a sense of nostalgia watching those episodes. That is especially the case in seeing the fashions from that era as well as hearing the music and the show’s overall production values. The episodes themselves are just part of what makes Reading Rainbow: Animal Café enjoyable for audiences. Some of the books teach even more invaluable lessons and others present some simple, enjoyable stories that will put a smile on any viewer’s face. Last but not least that makes this latest collection of episodes so fun for the whole family is the “teaching guide” included with the set. The “guide” serves as a starting point for teachers and parents alike to present lessons about ecology, conservation, and simply giving thanks. It is a great addition that can go a long way for teachers and parents alike. And together with the set’s episodes and their content contained therein, it makes the collection complete. It works with those elements to make this collection one more than every family should have in their home DVD library.
Reading Rainbow: Animal Café is only the second official collection of classic Reading Rainbow episodes to be released by PBS Distribution since the series went off the air in 2006. That is saying quite a bit. Being only the second official collection released from the one-time home of the family favorite series, it proves itself to be one more welcome new collection and hopefully not the last either. It proves itself so valuable primarily through its featured episodes. Four more classic episodes are presented in the body of the DVD. Three of those episodes come from 1985. That is the when the series was still in its infancy. It would have only been on the air for two years at that time. And it shows through the fashions and music in each episode as well as the hairstyles and production values. It might leave some audiences laughing including the series’ now grown-up original viewers looking back on how much things have changed since then. In the process, looking back at the days gone by, watching these episodes may even create a sense of nostalgia for those same audiences. It will remind those audiences of what once made PBS great and by comparison what still makes it so great even today. The children of those viewers will enjoy the episodes not for the nostalgia but for the general content of the episodes. They and their parents will all enjoy LeVar’s comedy makeover and classic slapstick routine in connection with the book Ludlow Laughs. The “Rainbow Classic” bicycle race set against the beautiful, tropical backdrop of Hawaii in the collection’s second episode and the race itself will entertain audiences of all ages just as much. And the throwback to New York City of the 1980s is still as relevant today as it was in 1985. That is because there are still people both there and across the country that work overnight. So it is still just as worthwhile an episode today as it was in its original broadcast. It is just one more example of what makes the episodes featured in this collection so important to the success of the set’s presentation in whole. Together with the collection’s other episodes, all four episodes show in whole why they are so important to the success and enjoyment of Reading Rainbow: Animal Café.
The episodes featured in PBS Kids’ latest Reading Rainbow collection do plenty to make this new collection a must have for any of the show’s original fans and for the next generation of Reading Rainbow fans. They are collectively only one part of what makes this latest collection so enjoyable for the whole family. The content of the episodes and the books presented in relation to the episodes make for even more enjoyment. The episode centered on The Tortoise and the Hare teaches the invaluable lesson of perseverance and hard work and its related results while Giving Thanks teaches exactly that. It teaches young viewers to be appreciative of everything that they have. Being that we seemingly live increasingly in a me first world today, this is an especially important lesson for young viewers to learn. Such a timeless lesson is yet another example of why audiences of all ages will appreciate this latest collection of Reading Rainbow episodes. Set against the collection’s more straight forward, fun-filled episodes, the material featured in all four episodes makes this collection all the more enjoyable. Collectively, all of the material presented in each of the disc’s four episodes shows just as much as the episodes themselves why this latest collection is a must have for Reading Rainbow fans of all ages.
The episodes that were chosen for Reading Rainbow: Animal Cafe and the material contained therein are both key reasons that audiences of all ages will want to add this latest Reading Rainbow collection to their home DVD libraries. They are not the only reasons that audiences will appreciate it, either. Along with the centrally featured episodes, Reading Rainbow: Animal Cafe also includes a “teaching guide” of sorts inside the DVD’s case. The “teaching guide” serves as a good starting point for teachers and parents alike. That is because it forms a foundation for the lessons presented throughout each of the presented episodes. Teachers and parents can drive home the lessons of Giving Thanks by having children form a “cleanup party” that with permission from a city or town government, would clean up designated areas of said town or city. The lessons presented by The Tortoise and the Hare are driven home by presenting an interactive activity that would see children grow their own plants. It would teach them the rewards of patience, hard work, and perseverance. There are even activities included in the “guide” that give parents and educators a starting point to teach children about appreciating not just Earth but all that Earth has to offer in its natural beauty. Teachers and parents could go from here and build lessons about appreciating other things (or people) that children have. As if that is not enough, there is also a lesson that lets children make their own pots just like the Native Americans presented in “Giving Thanks.” Each of the lessons in themselves offers its own enjoyment for adults and children alike. Together, they provide yet one more solid reason that this DVD should be in every living room and classroom even despite the episodes’ ages. And when set alongside the episodes themselves and the episodes’ content in whole, all three elements together show in whole why Reading Rainbow: Animal Cafe is not just another must have for any family and educator but one of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families.
Reading Rainbow: Animal Cafe is one of this year’s best new DVDs for children and families. It proves this through the combination of its episodes, their featured content and the DVD’s companion “lesson guide.” Whether used in the classroom or the living room, it proves to have something for audiences of all ages and will no matter how many times viewers watch it. Audiences can only hope that it will not be the last of PBS Kids’ Reading Rainbow compilations to see the light of day. With any luck it and its companion DVD Reading Rainbow: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie will prove successful enough that maybe PBS Kids and PBS Distribution will release this classic series in its own standalone season sets rather than smaller four-episode collections. Time will tell. And while audiences wait to see if anymore classic Reading Rainbow episodes will see the light of day, they can purchase this DVD in stores or order it online now via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=60650596&cp=&sr=1&kw=reading+rainbow&origkw=Reading+Rainbow&parentPage=search. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:
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