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Butterfly in the Sky

1hr 27mins
Directed by
Bradford Thomason, Brett Whitcomb
LeVar Burton,
Alisa Reyes,
Dean Parisot

Featuring a post-film panel featuring Dorothea Gillim, Creative Director of GBH Kids, Julie Roach, Collection Development Manager for the Boston Public Library, and moderator Alex Schaffner, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Brookline Booksmith. 

For 26 years, Reading Rainbow operated on the belief that children deserved to explore their world infinitely, playfully, safely and freely, regardless of their background or circumstances. Using the work and philosophies of Levar Burton as a foundation, this panel will discuss the serious work of feeding children’s curiosity.

About the Film

Butterfly in the Sky tells the story of the beloved PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow, its iconic host LeVar Burton, and the challenges its creators faced in cultivating sounds of its a love of reading through television. Two seconds into the bubbling synth theme song will have a child of the 1980s or ‘90s exclaiming “Reading Rainbow!” Such is the beloved nature of the classic children’s literary television show that introduced millions of kids to the wonder of books.

Not only did the series insist on having kids speak to kids about their favorite time, Reading Rainbow introduced the world to one of the most adored television hosts of all time, LeVar Burton. Thanks to his direct, non-patronizing and, most importantly, kind delivery, Burton became a conduit to learning for children of every background - stories, Reading Rainbow introduced the world to one of the most adored television hosts delving behind the pages to the people, places, and things each new story explored.

About Dorothea Gillim

Dorothea Gillim has led kids’ media productions at GBH for almost fifteen years, beginning with the Emmy award-winning PBS KIDS series Curious George. She currently oversees all projects in production and development, including the PBS KIDS’ podcast Keyshawn Solves It as well as Molly of Denali, which won a Peabody, Television Critics and Kidscreen Award. She began her television career as a writer/audio editor on the Peabody Award-winning series Dr. Katz for Comedy Central. Dorothea went on to produce Science Court for ABC Saturday Morning and TimeWarp Trio for Discovery Kids before creating her first animated comedy, Hey Monie, for Oxygen/BET. In 2006 she created WordGirl for PBS KIDS, winner of four Emmys and a Television Critics Association Award. Before her media career, Dorothea was a 5 th grade teacher. She received a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

About Julie Roach

Julie Roach is the Collection Development Manager at the Boston Public Library. She also teaches Children’s Collections and Materials at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and regularly reviews children's literature for The Horn Book Magazine. She previously managed youth services at the Cambridge Public Library and has served on a variety of children’s book award committees, including chairing the 2020 Caldecott Committee.

About Alex Schaffner

Alex Schaffner has been working in the book industry since 2003. Raised by librarians (one of them a children’s librarian at a public library), Alex has been employed and educated by public and academic libraries, trade and educational publishers, grocery stores (where you can learn a lot about cheese) and one very nearby bookstore. Alex was a founding member and co-chair of the NECBA (New England Children’s Booksellers Association) Windows and Mirrors committee, an initiative formed to uplift and highlight diverse children’s books for indie booksellers. Alex has reviewed comics and children’s literature for School Library Journal and Horn Book, as well as published in Horn Book Magazine. In 2023 and 2024, Alex served on the Boston Book Festival’s YA programming committee. Alex has worked at Brookline Booksmith since 2014–first as a children’s bookseller, then for six and change years as the Events Director, and since 2023 as the store’s first ever Community Engagement Coordinator. Alex grew up watching Reading Rainbow.

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