Reading Rainbow

The BEST episodes of Reading Rainbow

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Host LeVar Burton shepherds children through the exciting world of books with celebrity guest narrations, youth book reviews, and relevant cultural tie-ins.

Last Updated: 5/24/2022Network: PBS
Share:
Gregory, the Terrible Eater
star
10.00
5 votes

#1 - Gregory, the Terrible Eater

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired 6/20/1983

Oh, there's something wrong here. Goats don't just eat everything, despite LeVar's visit to a suspect diner. And then there's that obligatory something completely different: a professional chef letting kids chip in on a meal fit for humans.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash
star
10.00
2 votes

#2 - The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash

Season 1 - Episode 14 - Aired 6/23/1983

LeVar visits a pet store to discuss the featured book, and imagines that one of the pets from the store followed him home. It's a field day for the farm animals, and not a place for the faint of heart (or so the featured book would have it). The show also attends a state fair to investigate livestock competitions. Kaleena Kiff and Laura Hicks read the featured story of a little girl telling her mother about a school fieldtrip to a farm, and the chaos that ensued when her classmate brought along his pet snake to introduce it to the farm animals.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
Ty's One-Man Band
star
10.00
2 votes

#3 - Ty's One-Man Band

Season 1 - Episode 15 - Aired 6/24/1983

LeVar is ready to find music everywhere, and he does. This show includes the animation Onomatopoeia. Lou Rawls reads the story of Ty's One-Man Band, about a man who teaches a boy how to make music using household items.

Directors: Larry Lancit
A Chair for My Mother
star
10.00
3 votes

#4 - A Chair for My Mother

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired 9/7/1984

LeVar and eight other actors are rehearsing for a musical number called "Teamwork." Amy Linker ("Square Pegs") reads A Chair for My Mother, about a family that has to save up money to replace furniture lost when their apartment burns down in a fire. It also tells about how the rest of the neighborhood pulled together to help them during their loss.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
Paul Bunyan
star
10.00
2 votes

#5 - Paul Bunyan

Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired 7/1/1985

This book recounts the life of the extraordinary lumberjack whose unusual size and strength brought him many fantastic adventures. Also includes What Would You Do, Forest Firefighters, At the Library, Logging Olympics and book reviews for The Star-Spangled Banner, The Legend of the Bluebonnet and Whale in the Sky.

Watch Now:Amazon
The Patchwork Quilt
star
10.00
2 votes

#6 - The Patchwork Quilt

Season 3 - Episode 2 - Aired 7/2/1985

LeVar visits the Boston Children's Museum to participate with other children to design a patchwork quilt with everyone having their own individual square. Isabel Sanford reads The Patchwork Quilt, a story about a young girl who learns how to make a special quilt from her grandmother, and how she and her mother spend the next year collaborating on the quilt after grandmother falls ill.

Watch Now:Amazon
Animal Cafe
star
10.00
2 votes

#7 - Animal Cafe

Season 4 - Episode 1 - Aired 6/23/1986

Finding that the food on his shop shelves had vanished overnight and his cash register was stuffed full of money makes Maxwell wonder what really happens during the middle of the night. Also contains The City at Night, Bats, Through the Night and book reviews of The Moon, The Dream Eater and Night Markets: Bringing Food to a City.

Watch Now:Amazon
Rumpelstiltskin
star
10.00
1 votes

#8 - Rumpelstiltskin

Season 5 - Episode 7 - Aired 6/30/1987

This looks like an extension of the previous episode, but it is a separate venture. LeVar appears in proper attire for an English Renaissance festival. Ralph Waite reads the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a poor miller's daughter who is stuck between a greedy king and a conniving elf to get out of a difficult situation.

Watch Now:Amazon
The Biggest Test in the Universe
star
10.00
1 votes

#9 - The Biggest Test in the Universe

Season 21 - Episode 1 - Aired 11/6/2006

In addition to discussing accomplishing difficult tasks, LeVar profiles the New York children's theater group Tada, as they prepare auditions for their newest show. Richard Gear reads The Biggest Test in the Universe, a story about a grade school class having anxiety over an annual aptitude test.

Watch Now:Amazon
Show Way
star
10.00
2 votes

#10 - Show Way

Season 21 - Episode 5 - Aired 11/10/2006

As LeVar helps his wife and daughter construct his family tree, Diahann Carroll narrates Show Way, in which the author chronicles her family back to her Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmother, who was a slave in the South. Through traditions passed down to each generation, her family learned to sew "Show Way" quilts that were secretly maps designed to help slaves escape to the north to freedom, and how her relatives taught her to keep up with the love of quilting to retain family history.

Watch Now:Amazon
The Secret Shortcut
star
10.00
2 votes

#11 - The Secret Shortcut

Season 18 - Episode 4 - Aired 2/16/2001

In the first of two map shows, LeVar Burton wants to show how to use maps. But he is not Rick Steves. Tim Conway reads a story about two boys who decide to try a new route to school after getting there late all the time and being reprimanded by the teacher.

Watch Now:Amazon
Bea and Mr. Jones
star
9.80
5 votes

#12 - Bea and Mr. Jones

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 6/8/1983

LeVar is already worn out after working on several scenes all day long on the production of the series. He feels he needs to take on another identity, segueing into introducing the featured book, Bea and Mr. Jones. Madeline Kahn reads the book about a kindergarten student and her father who get so bored with their jobs that they decide to experiment by switching places for the day.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
The Gift of the Sacred Dog
star
9.67
3 votes

#13 - The Gift of the Sacred Dog

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired 6/17/1983

The first of many programs favoring Native Americans. In this instance, a Midwestern legend suggests how horses arrived to the tribe. Later in this episode is the song "Ancient Places, Sacred Lands" which lists several words originating from various locations of the United States and the tribal meaning of their names.

Watch Now:Amazon
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain
star
9.50
2 votes

#14 - Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 6/9/1983

How do you envision the rain, or any kind of weather? Some of the things to ask about in this show of weather legends. When LeVar's plans of attending a picnic and softball game are derailed by a downpour, he decides to stay home to read a few books instead. James Earl Jones reads Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, an African story written in the style of "The House That Jack Built," about how one action leads to another to help bring water to a drought torn region.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
Louis the Fish
star
9.50
2 votes

#15 - Louis the Fish

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 6/10/1983

Starting at the New England Aquarium, LeVar gets into a lengthy observation of aquatic life. Vincent Gardenia reads the story of Louis the Fish, a fanciful tale of a man, forced to take over his family's butcher business but secretly longing to take care of fish instead, wakes up one morning to find he magically turned into a giant salmon.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
Three by the Sea
star
9.33
3 votes

#16 - Three by the Sea

Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired 6/21/1983

LeVar spends a day at the beach, where he notices that everyone is reading the book of the day, Three by the Sea. Improvisation Comedy Troupe members of Chicago City Limits read the story of three children who challenge each other to come up with different stories using the same topic material. Later on, the improvising actors work with a group of children to teach them improv acting.

Watch Now:Amazon
Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport
star
9.00
2 votes

#17 - Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 6/15/1983

LeVar is out to disspell misconceptions of unknown things. When the boy in the feature book is convinced he'll find gila monsters when he arrives at an airport out in the West, this raises the question: What is a gila monster? A nature visit to the West shows us a gila monster up close. Later in the program, LeVar discusses with children the new experiences they have had to face.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
Space Case
star
9.00
2 votes

#18 - Space Case

Season 4 - Episode 6 - Aired 6/30/1986

Is there life on other planets and stars? LaVar sends a message to aliens who might be watching and a radio telescope in Puerto Rico is profiled. Today's featured story is about a being from outer space who visits Earth.

Watch Now:Amazon
Liang and the Magic Paintbrush
star
8.80
5 votes

#19 - Liang and the Magic Paintbrush

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 6/14/1983

LeVar goes to Chinatown for a look at Chinese culture. In something completely different, a New York technology institute draws a traditional Chinese dragon boat.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
The Bionic Bunny Show
star
8.67
3 votes

#20 - The Bionic Bunny Show

Season 6 - Episode 1 - Aired 8/15/1988

In both the featured story and on the set of the show "Star Trek: the Next Generation" (which LaVar also stars on) we learn how TV shows are made and how actors in costumes and special effects can make imaginary things seem real.

Watch Now:Amazon
Tight Times
star
8.20
15 votes

#21 - Tight Times

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 6/6/1983

What can you do with very little money? That's what the featured book and LeVar must face. To set the tone for the entire series, LeVar shows a friend a wealth of fun at the local library. Patrick McCaffrey reads Tight Times, a story about how a little boy talks his parents into letting him adopt a stray cat even though they have to make budget cuts after the father is laid off from his job.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
Miss Nelson is Back
star
8.00
9 votes

#22 - Miss Nelson is Back

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 6/7/1983

As part of his birthday celebration, LeVar gets made-up like a movie monster, and then gets involved in Harry Blackstone's magic act. Ruth Buzzi reads Miss Nelson Is Back, all about a group of rowdy students who try to take advantage of their teacher's absence when she's out sick one day, and how she gets revenge on them by pretending to be "the meanest teacher in the world, Viola Swamp."

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
Digging Up Dinosaurs
star
8.00
3 votes

#23 - Digging Up Dinosaurs

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 6/13/1983

Technically not the first science-related show in its history, LeVar seeks a place where archaeologists retrieve dinosaur bones. At the end of the program, LeVar buries a time capsule, containing (among other things) a can of old Coke and his picture. Linda Gilman reads Digging Up Dinosaurs, a story about how paleontologists unearth dinosaurs skeletons and preserve them in museum exhibits.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon
Two Old Potatoes and Me
star
8.00
1 votes

#24 - Two Old Potatoes and Me

Season 20 - Episode 5 - Aired 1/21/2005

Jordan Puryear reads "Two Old Potatoes and Me," about a girl who works with her father to recycle two rotted potatoes by replanting them using the sprouts to grow a whole new crop of potatoes. LeVar, working with his daughter, is inspired to make potato dishes from recipes in the book.

Watch Now:Amazon
Ox-Cart Man
star
7.33
3 votes

#25 - Ox-Cart Man

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired 9/5/1984

LeVar visits Sturbridge Village in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to experience reenactments of life in Colonial America.

Directors: Larry Lancit
Watch Now:Amazon