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How Reading Rainbow books are chosen...

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Since our very own hostess' book is being considered for the show, I thought I'd share this info that I got on how books are chosen for Reading Rainbow.  It comes from the Introduction of this book:

Reading Rainbow Guide to Children's Books: the 101 Best Titles. by Twila Christensen Liggett. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publ. Group, 1994.

I highly recommend this book, if you can find it, and I hope they don't mind my typing a portion of the intro here.

How are books selected for Reading Rainbow?

There are three categories of books on Reading Rainbow.  Feature books are fully adapted and are the focal point of each program.  For each feature book, there are three review books, titles that support the theme of the feature book and are reviewed on-camera by children . . .

We find books through recommendations by our viewers, with the advice of professionals in both childhood education and children's literature, and by looking everywhere and reading everything we can.  We have a special interest in good stories featuring protagonists who represent a cross-section of cultures--African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American.  We also search for stories with female protagonists in positive and active roles.

As we read books, the qualities we look for in Reading Rainbow titles are (1) literary merit, (2) visual impact and artistic achievement, (3) adaptability to the television format, and (4) ability to interest children.

We consider a number of factors in determining literary merit.  Awards and other acknowledgements of literary achievement are important to us.  Not only new titles, but books that have stood the test of time, interest us.  We look for diverse literary styles.  A book must be appealing as a read-aloud.  Reading Rainbow books must show viewers that reading can be a pleasurable and rewarding experience.

We are also interested in awards and other distinctions given to picture books in evaluating a title for visual impact and artistic achievement.  Books with strong, vivid, colorful graphics and artistic humor are often selected as feature books.

(The next paragraph discussed how certain books are better able to be adapted to the television format graphics-wise and how that impacts the selection . . .)

Books meeting our criteria are tested with children.  Reading Rainbow researchers visit schools in new York and suburban areas and read stories to groups of beginning readers who represent a range of cultures and socioeconomic levels.  Questions are asked to determine children's reactions, opinions, and recall of the story.  The story session is considered one of the most vital aspects of the selection process.  If children don't respond enthusiastically to a book, it isn't used.

With the list narrowed down, proposed titles are sent to education and literary consultants.  In-house we discuss each book's potential for a Reading Rainbow show.  We agonize over decisions, make them, and contact the publishers for permission to use the books in the series.  Reading Rainbow books must be available in bookstores and libraries nationwide, and publishers must go back to print if necessary to meet consumer demaind.  Publishers are also encouraged to put Reading Rainbow books into paperback . . .

. . .  Over the . . . years that Reading Rainbow has been on PBS, librarians, booksellers, parents, and teachers have reported a stunning increase in requests for books seen on the show.  Sales of these books have dramatically increased, with some jumping as high as 900 percent.

(Well, it goes on, and I find it all fascinating--but I'll end my transcript there.  Congrats again, Verla, for meeting all those criteria!  Your book seems like it's jumped through many hoops to be considered for the show!)

#1 - February 22, 2004, 02:59 PM

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Wow! Thanks for all that info, Jaina.  I had no idea there was this much involved.  :faint: Now I'm even more flattered that they are considering Homespun Sarah for their show.  (Should I practice my "uppety" stance, :stuckup: just in case it does get picked? )   :dr :dr :dr  (Anyone who knows me in person will realize what a joke that is... as if I could ever be "uppety" to anyone!)
#2 - February 22, 2004, 04:53 PM
« Last Edit: February 22, 2004, 04:54 PM by Verla Kay »
Verla Kay

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 :jump :jump :jump :jump :jump :jump :jump

Congratulations Verla!!! I'm crossing my fingers that they pick Homespun Sarah for the show.
#3 - February 23, 2004, 06:43 AM
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picture book: EWE AND AYE (now available as an ebook!)

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Very interesting, Jaina.  Thanks so much for posting.

Best of luck, Verla!
#4 - February 23, 2004, 08:10 AM
LOUD LULA, Two Lions


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