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Reading Rainbow IPad App Is Here -- But Don't Expect A Nice Big Dose Of Nostalgia

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Beloved kids' TV series "Reading Rainbow" is back -- but this time it's on a tablet, not a television set.

The popular children's show has "reimagined" its brand, releasing an interactive iPad app that offers children an enhanced reading experience with animations, games and video.

The show was cancelled in 2009 after 26 years on the air on PBS, but it didn't take creators long to realize a new audience could be formed using a more mobile medium.

"Television was the technology we used in the 80's to get the attention of kids and steer them back in the direction of literature," says longtime host and producer of the show LeVar Burton, in an interview with VentureBeat. "Now this is a whole new universe."

Burton explained in the same interview that he's still heavily involved with the RR brand, picking out the literature and working with the creators to produce an app for today's media-savvy kids. He also narrates several of the digital books and hosts the virtual "field trip" videos featured in the app.

Switching over to the tablet may prove beneficial for advocating literacy with today's younger generation. According to the New York Times, 46 percent of children ages five to eight use a computer more than once a week and 50 percent of children under eight have access to a mobile device.

The Reading Rainbow app offers 150 books and 16 video "field trips" designed for kids three to nine years of age. Parents can pay $9.99 a month or $29.99 for a six-month subscription to receive unlimited access to frequently updated content.

Like the television show, Burton and the creators wanted to make reading the primary focus of the app. But instead of watching from the couch, children are encouraged to participate in the experience. After designing a virtual backpack, children go on a journey through a series of themed islands, reading books and solving puzzles along the way.

At the time of its launch, the app had signed with several major book publishers, including Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Holiday House, and Charlesbridge Publishers. And RRKidz doesn't plan on stopping there. In a recent press release the company stated the app "is only the beginning" and that the company hopes to create new digital products promoting literature in the near future.

"I am excited to bring Reading Rainbow back so that parents who watched the show can now share that same feel-good experience with their own children but on a platform that resonates with today’s digital kids,” Burton said in the RRKidz press release.

So can an app about reading fare well when it's competing against apps like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja? Reading Rainbow's creators sure think so.

"It's all about storytelling," Burton tells VentureBeat. "And when you are using storytelling as a tool for education -- if you do it well -- there is nothing more effective."

With the vibrant games, puzzles, and narrated books, Reading Rainbow may actually capture the attention of a new, often unfocused, generation. But you don't have to take our word for it. (We couldn't resist.)

Check out the images below for a more in-depth look at the Reading Rainbow app. Would your kids be entertained by interactive reading? Tell us what you think in the comments section or tweet us at @HuffPostTech.

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And then, for old times' sake, watch the "old school" opener to the Reading Rainbow television show.

[Hat Tip: Mashable]

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