Arts & Entertainment

Case Study: Reading to Children

LeVar Burton

Lesson time 17:49 min

LeVar reads an excerpt from his children’s book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, and shares techniques for connecting with young audiences through character voices, eyeline, visual cues, and prompts.

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Topics include: Take on the Tough Issues · The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm · Let the Story Spark Conversation · Ways to Build Rapport · If You’re Engaged, They Will Be Engaged · Major Takeaways


[MUSIC PLAYING] LEVAR BURTON (VOICEOVER): As the host of "Reading Rainbow," I was able to talk to kids in every episode about the joys of reading. Telling stories to children is such an amazing thing for me because it opens up new worlds for them and also to the grown-ups who are doing the reading. I'm going to read my children's book, "The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm," and then offer a few of my best tips for engaging with young audiences. [MUSIC PLAYING] One day, I was with my camera crew in Central Park in New York, and it was another one of those days in America where someone had gone into a public place with an automatic weapon and started firing. And there were deaths and injuries. And I thought, you know, if Fred Rogers were still here, he would be addressing in an age-appropriate way what it's like growing up in a world where there are these calamities and tragedies that seem to befall us with regularity. And you know, Fred was gone, and so I figured, maybe I should take a shot at doing what Fred might have done. And Fred always talked about looking for the helpers that when-- when you're in trouble, look for the helpers. They're all around, and on that theme, I came up with "The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm," which was designed to be a story about loss and recovery for kids. [MUSIC PLAYING] "In the middle of the morning, Mica Mouse trembled under her blanket. A storm boomed outside her window. Rain crashed against the glass. Window rattled the shutters. More than anything else, Mica was afraid of storms. A year before, a powerful hurricane had destroyed her home. 'I'm scared, Papa,' she said." And there's Mica Mouse, and there's Papa reading "The Gouda Times." Get it, "Gouda Times"? "'We are safe, Mica. This storm will pass soon. Would you like me to read you a story? I know just the one to help you feel better.' Well, Mica loved books, and Papa's gentle voice soothed in a way that made her forget all about the thunder. Papa opened the book and began. 'Long, long ago, before there were words, animals roamed in bountiful herds. Little Rhinoceros lived happy and free, exploring mountains and meadows, rivers and trees. His world was delightful and chock full of magic until out of the blue, that magic turned tragic. [MUSIC PLAYING] A storm swept through the valley, turning bright sky to black. A flash flood came raging, no time to react. Lost in the thundering, no time for wondering, chaos and lightning, fury so frightening, earth shaking, him quaking, water rumbling, him tumbling, raggedy jaggedy, senseless calamity, the storm crashed through his world and tore it apart, took away everything dear to his heart. Rhino was stunned by the terrible scene, death and destruction all through the ravine. Enraged by the pain of such a great loss, Rhino acted without a thought to the cost. Rhino look at his world, all tattered and torn, stood out on the...

About the Instructor

With his iconic roles in Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation and 23 years as the host of Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton has left an indelible mark on our culture. Now the Emmy, Grammy, and Peabody winner is sharing his approach to storytelling so you can connect authentically with any audience. Learn how to find intention, use your voice, and mine your experiences to be a more effective and dynamic storyteller.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

LeVar Burton

Emmy winner and Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton teaches you his techniques for more dynamic, authentic storytelling.

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