While reading A Kid's Book About Imagination with my six-year-old, I felt something I don't typically feel while reading with my kids—the book was talking to me, too. When I spoke with LeVar Burton later that day and mentioned how his new book made me feel, he gave me the highest praise any millennial fan of Reading Rainbow could ever hear in regard to a book: "Ding, ding, ding! You got it."
Burton partnered with A Kids Company About, a brand that makes media for "the next generation of world-changing kids." His book is the 51st title in the series, sharing esteemed company with A Kid's Book About Racism, A Kid's Book About Anxiety, A Kid's Book About Empathy and many, many more prudent titles.
A Kid's Book About Imagination focuses on how we can explore our imagination and how to use the power of our imagination to think beyond the bounds of our own reality. It shows us that we each have the power to make the world a better place for all—we just have to envision it first.
Something I think we forget as we delve deeper into adulthood is that the concept of using one's imagination is so much more than "playing pretend." This book reminds us all that our imagination is, truly, a superpower. And for millennial parents who grew up reading along with LeVar Burton every day, there's something very "full-circle" in still learning from one of your childhood heroes while reading his latest book with your own kids.
For me (and likely many others), diving into the magical world of Reading Rainbow's books provided a soft place to land each day after school. As a viewer and an avid reader, that show made me feel like I belonged somewhere—that feeling was invaluable to me as a child.
The underlying message of A Kid's Book About Imagination aligns perfectly with how Burton makes you feel when you talk to him: Your thoughts and ideas matter. You matter.
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
This is very much a book for adults and parents as it is for children. I read it with my 6-year-old and felt like the book was speaking to her while also serving as a reminder for me. What do you hope parents and kids gain from reading this book together?
LB: A wonderful shared moment. Spontaneously, we can connect with our kids, especially around literature. It sends the right signal that meeting is important to us as a family and as a species. By spending time together reading this book, it says to a child, "I'm investing in you."
You mention your mother, Erma Gene, in the book. I'd love to know how she inspired your love of reading as a child, and I'm sure our readers would love to hear about her too.
LB: Erma Gene was a high school English teacher, so I grew up in a house where reading is was mandatory. When it came to my mom's house, you were either going to read a book or get hit in the head! [Laughs.] Basically, you were going to have an encounter with the written word.
As an advocate for child literacy, you're aware that not everyone grows up in a house where reading is a priority. And some people just don't like to read, period. What advice would you give to parents who don't identify as "readers" themselves, but want to make sure their kids are?
LB: I genuinely feel that it is difficult—if not impossible—to reach your full potential in life if you aren't literate in at least one language. You may become wildly successful beyond your dreams, but you will not have reached your full potential in life unless you have the facility of literacy. Because without literacy, you miss out on access to a primary source of knowledge and information.
If you, as a parent, didn't have access to books as a child: It's not your fault. It is not your fault at all. But you don't want to deprive your child of reaching their full potential, right? Also, reading to your children is, of course, beneficial—but so is reading in front of them. Modeling literacy begins in your home.
A Kid's Book About Imagination is so special because it allows the reader to recognize our own imagination superpower while also showing us that our superpower can be used to help others. With empathy in mind, what do you hope kids and their parents take away from this book?
LB: I have come to the conclusion that if I can sit with someone anyone long enough to hear their story, and for them to hear my own, we can find commonality in our experiences. Commonality is the beginning of understanding, and with understanding, you have the pathway to empathy. Imagination goes hand-in-hand with empathy. You can't have a just, equitable world unless you can imagine it.