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LeVar Burton Encourages Kids to Read Banned Books: “That’s Where the Good Stuff Is”

The former Reading Rainbow host responded to recent book bans

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
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    Though LeVar Burton hasn’t hosted Reading Rainbow since it ended in 2006, he’s still finding ways to encourage young children to pick up a book. In light of recent book bans across certain schools in the US, Burton appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah with some sage advice: Read forbidden literature.

    The book ban outrage came to a head last month when a Tennessee school board voted to ban Maus — Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel based on his father’s experience at Auschwitz — claiming it contained material that was inappropriate for students. While classics like the Harry Potter series and Huckleberry Finn have all been subjected to some silly schoolwide bans in the past, Black authors have been particularly targeted, with LGBTQ and other minority groups also getting singled out. Noah commented that these rulings feel more harrowing in 2022.

    “Recently, the number of books being targeted has gotten out of control, and the type of books that are being targeted now are very revealing,” the host said. “They’re banning books about race, gender, sexuality, emotions, history. Guys, that’s all books.”

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    Noah’s debriefing on book bans then led into Burton’s guest appearance, which first appears to be just like any other Reading Rainbow segment (albeit via Zoom). But the books Burton wants to tell you about today — such as one about Rosa Parks, and another about two male penguins who adopt a baby together — have been banned for “content violations,” driving home Noah’s point about how ridiculous the restrictions have become.

    “There are plenty of books to choose from,” Burton said. “But you know what? No — read the books they don’t want you to. That’s where the good stuff is.” The actor had one final sentiment before departing the screen: “Read banned books!”

    Read it and weep, indeed. Watch Burton on The Daily Show below.

    Burton may have lost out on the Jeopardy! gig, but the experience wasn’t a waste; he’s now been tapped to host and executive produce a Trivial Pursuit game show.

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