LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

2017 Friend of Education
Reading Rainbow, RRKidz

Author, actor, and literacy advocate LeVar Burton is the recipient of NEA’s 2017 Friend of Education Award.

For 26 seasons Burton served as host and executive producer of the Peabody Award Winning PBS children’s television series Reading Rainbow. While taking great pride in the series’ role in garnering him a total of 12 Emmy Awards, five NAACP Awards and numerous other accolades, Burton continues to be proudest of Reading Rainbow’s ability to “help create generations of Americans who are passionate readers.”

A successful actor whose most notable roles were as a young Kunta Kinte in the 1977 award-winning miniseries Roots, and as Lt. Geordi LaForge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Burton has directed television as diverse as all four Star Trek series, numerous commercials, and TV series. His first dramatic television movie, The Tiger Woods Story, for Showtime received three Emmy nominations. Reach For Me, his most recent feature film directorial effort, produced by his longtime business partner, Mark Wolfe, received global accolades for its empathetic, human portrayal of the issues surrounding the end of life and the meaning of a full life.

Burton is now reaching a new generation of readers with the Reading Rainbow app and its digital library Skybrary, available online, on iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Google Play. The Skybrary Family app currently features over 1,000 books. Children can read them alone, or listen to readings by celebrity narrators, and parents can track their child’s progress.

Burton appears frequently as a guest on CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post and many other outlets commenting on topics important to parents and their children. LeVar was a guest of President Obama and the Co-Host of the White House Science Fair in 2013, and is a recipient of the 2013 Common Sense Media Award for his lifetime of work on behalf of children.