Common Sense Media Hosts Speaker Spotlight at ISTE 2014 Featuring LeVar Burton — Actor and Co-Founder of Reading Rainbow — on Kids and Reading in the Digital Age

Burton’s “Inspiring Learning with Technology & Storytelling” presentation is part of Common Sense Media’s focus on helping teachers discover the best tech tools for K-12 during the annual edtech conference starting this week in Atlanta

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — On June 29, Common Sense Media, the national nonprofit dedicated to helping kids, parents, and educators thrive with media and technology, welcomes Emmy Award-winning actor and children’s literacy advocate LeVar Burton to speak at ISTE 2014. Burton will address a capacity crowd at the Common Sense Media spotlight session about inspiring today’s tech-savvy students to develop a lifelong love of reading.

“LeVar’s message is timely and the audience at ISTE ideal for a discussion about technology’s potential to engage and advance learning,” said Mike Lorion, General Manager of Education at Common Sense Media. “Research suggests that adolescents are reading less for enjoyment, and that a significant reading achievement gap persists for white and minority students. How might technology inspire kids to read more or become enthusiastic about any subject and skill?”

Burton has dedicated himself to inspiring millions of children to read both through his beloved long-standing PBS children’s series, Reading Rainbow, and more recently through the Reading Rainbow digital library, currently available on the iPad and Kindle Fire. Some 184,000 books are read each week through these platforms, which were launched in 2011.

“What we know is that reading is as important–if not more so–as it has ever been and our kids are falling behind,” said LeVar Burton. “But we also know that it is possible to use technology to foster a passion for reading that lasts a lifetime.”

Burton will be available for media in the pressroom (B209) at the Georgia World Congress Center from 2-3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June 29, prior to the spotlight presentation at 4:30 p.m. At 2 p.m., Burton will join Shira Lee Katz, Senior Director of Education Content at Common Sense Media, and Dr. Kris Mitzner, Principal of Diane Winborn Elementary School in Katy, Texas in a 30-minute panel conversation on “Engaging Learners with Digital Content”. The discussion will focus on what makes some apps and websites more effective than others at improving student outcomes. Press questions are welcome. Please contact Crista Sumanik at to reserve a space for the panel conversation featuring LeVar Burton.

Throughout the conference from June 29 through July 1, Common Sense Media will conduct workshops and demonstrations of various digital educator resources that have received our highest rating for learning potential:

At booth #1526 on the convention floor, Common Sense Media will present the latest updates and features of Graphite, the trusted site to help educators source and use the best educational technology for K-12 classrooms. Developers of the industry’s hottest educational technologies — and winners of Common Sense Media ON for Learning Awards, including iCivics, Dreambox Learning, BrainPop, Khan Academy, MinecraftEdu, and more — will demonstrate their popular learning products.
In room B311, Common Sense Media experts and certified educators will lead sessions focused on the best technology tools to enhance student learning.
At the Ed Tech Start-Up Pitch Fest, Common Sense Media will judge both the hotly contested preliminary rounds on Sunday, June 29, as well as the final round on Monday, June 30.
Please find the full schedule of Common Sense Media events at ISTE here:

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is a leading independent nonprofit organization offering the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for everything kids want to watch, play, read, and learn. We provide comprehensive, free resources for schools and trustworthy information for parents to ensure kids learn how to be safe, smart, and responsible digital citizens who thrive in a world of media and technology. For more information, go to:

About LeVar Burton and RRKidz

Best known for his distinguished TV roles, most notably Kunta Kinte on “Roots,” Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Reading Rainbow,” LeVar Burton is widely recognized for his lifelong advocacy of children’s literacy. In 2011 he formed RRKidz with his business partner Mark Wolfe and launched the award-winning Reading Rainbow’s unlimited library of books and video field trips. They hold the global rights to the Reading Rainbow brand through a partnership with series creator, WNED/Buffalo.

Press Contacts:
Crista Sumanik
W: 415.553.6780

Alexis Vanni
W: 415-553-6728


About the Author:

Andrea Jones

Andrea Jones is a technology specialist in Virginia. A former French teacher, she currently supports technology integration in a middle school.