Hi! LeVar Burton here — thrilled to be back on reddit. You may know me from your childhood; Roots, Star Trek, Reading Rainbow and last year's Kickstarter campaign. We’ve just launched SKYBRARY, a new online portal to the world of Reading Rainbow, in support of fulfilling our Kickstarter promise. Victoria from reddit will be helping me so let’s get started!


Edit: Thank you everybody for participating and spending a little bit of your Saturday with me.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

You are all now free to wear as much white as you would like.

Comments: 1115 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

AKABindz1431 karma

How does it feel to know that you were the standard pseudo substitute teacher for classrooms all over the place? You and Bill Nye were the best part about the teacher not being there. I just bought a reading rainbow shirt at Target, and it's my favorite thing. But above all thank you!

_LeVarBurton1026 karma


And I thank you! I'm really most proud of our continuing efforts to be a part of the lives of kids.

BoldlyTheyRode916 karma

Would you rather fix 100 plasma conduit sized warp coils, or 1 warp coil sized plasma conduit?

_LeVarBurton1536 karma


Rainingmadness649 karma

The last thing we heard about you in Community was that the boat you and Troy were on got captured by pirates. If you were allowed to come up with a story of your escape, what would it be?

_LeVarBurton1097 karma

Out of their benevolence, the pirates dropped LeVar and Troy off in Tahiti.

And they sailed around for the rest of their lives in the South Pacific.

And published a coffee table book of their adventures.

madmaxpower9492 karma

Did you know Mr. Rogers? He was a childhood and still is a hero of mine and believe we need more people like him.

_LeVarBurton936 karma

Yes, I did know Mr. Rogers.

Fred was both a friend, and a mentor, to me.

We met first at a PBS event in Crystal City many years ago. And over time, we became good friends. I went to Pittsburgh to do an episode of his show, and unfortunately he passed before he had a chance to come and do READING RAINBOW.

operation_hennessey475 karma

Hi LeVar! Can you tell us something about yourself that we may find surprising?

_LeVarBurton1041 karma

Well, let's see. I studied in the Catholic Seminary for the priesthood for four years.

ricklionheart402 karma

Follow up: are you still a religious man?

_LeVarBurton1217 karma

I gave up organized religion many years ago. However, God plays a critically central role in my life.

Hwight_Doward445 karma

Hey LeVar!

What would you say is your favourite moment with RoosterTeeth?

_LeVarBurton586 karma


Um... I love RoosterTeeth. And I suppose one of the things I love MOST about them is that the RoosterTeeth fandom is a place that my daughter Mica and I can connect.

DavidGeekMN394 karma

Sorry if this has already been asked but can you explain Skybrary and how it will impact the reading, the learning, the education, and the fun of new generations of readers? I mean, isn't that what Reading Rainbow is all about?

_LeVarBurton739 karma

Absolutely. That is exactly what Reading Rainbow is all about.

And here's how Skybrary works: when you log on, you are launched into the cockpit of your own hot air balloon.

Out in front of you, you will find islands in the sky that are themed.

This is where our content lives.

Our books, and our video field-trips.

This enables a child to have a self-directed experience that is about adventure and discovery of books and videos that they would themselves like to read.

Maddie_N331 karma

  1. As the 30th anniversary of TNG approaches in a few years, would you ever consider filming another TNG movie?

  2. Do you have any special memories about Leonard Nimoy that you'd like to share?

  3. Do you and Brent Spiner still talk? Data and Geordi were my favorite two characters from TNG.

Thanks for doing this AMA!

_LeVarBurton897 karma

1.) Only if all of my TNG castmates were involved.

2.) Sure! Leonard was a very kind and generous man. Some of my favorite memories of Leonard were evenings out, eating, drinking, and laughing.

3.) Who's he? HA HA HA HA! Brent Spiner, I'm not familiar! HA HA HA HA! Brent and I talk all the time! No, we all keep in touch, the Next Gen cast. When I got married many years ago, Brent was my best man, and my groomsmen were Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, and Patrick Stewart. It made for a pretty kick-ass wedding photo.

You're welcome!

Pixel_Me_That217 karma

Hi LeVar!

Which author has had the greatest impact on your life?

_LeVarBurton352 karma


That's a pretty big question.

There have been so many - from Isaac Asimov, to Carl Sagan, to Alex Haley, to Gene Roddenberry... writers who've had a tremendously profound impact on my life.

It's impossible for me to choose just one.

operation_hennessey172 karma

Do you have a favourite TNG moment?

_LeVarBurton393 karma


So many.

So many moments!

I'd have to say in "Nemesis" when Geordi sees sunrise through human eyes. That's a pretty good moment.

operation_hennessey169 karma

What was it like doing voice work on Adventure Time? Do you watch the show?

_LeVarBurton235 karma


I love Pendleton Ward, and his wacky sense of humor. And yes, I was a fan before voicing Bubble.

madmaxpower9169 karma

Did you know Michael Dorn is Vegan? Are you Vegan?

_LeVarBurton303 karma

I did indeed know that Michael Dorn is vegan.

I am not vegan.

However, Brent Spiner is vegetarian.

holographene166 karma

If you had a holodeck of your own, where and when would you want to go first?

_LeVarBurton292 karma

Nice question.

I would create a Holodeck program where I could fly without any apparatus whatsoever.

And I'd spend hours touring the sky.

MeLlamoDeadpool156 karma

How uncomfortable was that visor in The Next Generation?

_LeVarBurton292 karma


The visor was... very uncomfortable. People don't believe me when I say that we literally screwed it into my head.

However, it's true.

madmaxpower9150 karma

BBC America moved the three episodes of STNG from 8 am to 12 pm and only show 2 episodes now. Can you talk to them for me?

I would like it back to the three episodes at 8 am. Thanks

_LeVarBurton143 karma

Unfortunately I have no connections at BBC America.

Animist_Prime140 karma

I remember having my mom send you a letter when you were on Star Trek because Geordi was my favorite. You wrote back some inspiring thing that had nothing to do with my letter. Did you have just a blanket statement that you sent people back then?

BTW, I still have it.

_LeVarBurton245 karma

In fact, I did have a blanket card that I used to send to fans back in the day. I'm trying to remember now what it said. It's just escaping me. It was a 5 x 7 card that had a picture on one side, and a note on the reverse, it was during a time when there was just no way for me to personally answer every request for an autograph. I didn't have the infrastructure. We were a two person shop! But I'm glad you still kept it!

kbringel129 karma

LeVar - congrats on the new project (Skybrary)! I'm going to check it out for my nieces. Is this the next "phase" of Reading Rainbow?

_LeVarBurton174 karma

THANK YOU for asking!


Yes! Skybrary is in fact our first post-Kickstarter product.

And Skybrary is actually our entire library service. All of our books and video field trips on the web! We've taken our number one educational app, and totally translated it for the web browser. Our target demographic is the entry-level reading age child - we like to think of it as being between 2-9 years of age.

I'm very proud of it.

madmaxpower9107 karma

What do you think the world is missing more, if you had to chose one: love or education?

_LeVarBurton376 karma

In my view, education is love.

douglascodes103 karma

Hello LeVar! What is your spirit animal?

_LeVarBurton418 karma

chuckles heartily

Donald Glover is my spirit animal!

MickyPol84 karma

I know you were born in Germany. Do you speak German?

_LeVarBurton160 karma

Ein bissen ja.

EpsilonProtocol82 karma

Would you ever consider a return to 'Star Trek' with the cast from The Next Generation and the other series if it was done in an animation style similar to how 'Star Wars' did 'The Clone Wars'? Personally I would love to see some of the books like the Destiny Trilogy, The Typhon Pact and The Fall be done with the combined casts from over the years.

_LeVarBurton96 karma

I would certainly consider it!

suaveitguy75 karma

You starred with Steve McQueen in his final film. Can you share your thoughts on his approach to acting?

_LeVarBurton128 karma

Steve did not believe that acting was something that could be taught. And I tend to agree with him, in the sense that i have a very difficult time explaining what I do. Which is absolutely be in the moment, be honest, tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may.

madmaxpower967 karma

what is your favorite current TV show? Movie?

_LeVarBurton179 karma

Let's see... television or movie...

I'm pretty hooked on Game of Thrones. Some pretty quality storytelling going on right there. And in my queue, I've got Orange is the New Black, and House of Lies.

Ppractivus66 karma

Thank you very much for your efforts at Reading Rainbow. I watched that show as a kid from ~1990-1995, both in school and out. Reading Rainbow allowed me to discover many worlds, without Star Trek.

What projects take up most of your time these days?

_LeVarBurton92 karma

Most of my time these days is occupied by Reading Rainbow.

Our digital products for kids, and the growing thing that is the business of Reading Rainbow.

mvaneman64 karma

Hello, Mr. Burton.

Thanks for doing another AMA.

I have been a fan of your work since childhood. I just wanted to say that you are an amazing man! My question for you is this: Who was the best author you ever met, and who would you most like to meet? Thanks again, and keep up the great work!

_LeVarBurton113 karma

Wow, the best author I've met?

Holy moly. At the risk of offending some pre-tty great authors... I will plead the Fifth on that question!

Would LOVE to have met John Updike. Would love to have met John Updike.

I_smell_awesome64 karma

Hi. What are your favorite pizza toppings?

_LeVarBurton143 karma

Pepperoni, sausage, jalapeno.

oraninc54 karma

what technology surprised you that was inspired by star trek?

_LeVarBurton124 karma

I continually marvel at a lot of the technology we currently enjoy that was inspired by Star Trek.

I'm convinced that there was some child who watched the original episodes of Star Trek... and kept seeing Kirk pull out a communicator, to call Scotty on the ship. That child grew up, became a scientist, an engineer, and designed a product more prevalent than the toaster. The cell phone.

operation_hennessey48 karma

What are your top five favourite books, or children's books? As a librarian, I must know!

_LeVarBurton85 karma

I can pick a couple. I like recommending children's books are ENEMY PIE by Derek Munson and AMAZING GRACE, with illustrations by Caroline Binch and text by Mary Hoffman.

madmaxpower947 karma

Did you always like Scifi or did you become a fan or bigger fan after star trek?

_LeVarBurton108 karma

I was a fan of science fiction before I became a member of the cast of Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future was VERY important to me, when I was growing up. My family and I watched the original series faithfully.

madmaxpower942 karma

What is your favorite charity?

_LeVarBurton70 karma

Wow. My favorite charity?

I am a big fan of Shared Hope International. They do amazing work on the planet. And I'm a big supporter of First Book. And little free libraries.

madmaxpower940 karma

Are you going to the Beach or BBQing today?

_LeVarBurton97 karma

Today, I am neither going to the beach, nor am I barbecuing. Can I come over to your house?

madmaxpower947 karma

I would love that. Anytime you are in NJ :)

_LeVarBurton81 karma


I'll be right over!

DavidGeekMN35 karma

Roots! Reading Rainbow! Star Trek! Reading Rainbow again. Is there one thing you have done that makes you most proud? Is there one thing on your bucket list... something that you have dreamed of doing... that would match up to the good works you have done so far?

_LeVarBurton85 karma

Had I been given an opportunity to dream up my career thus far, I would never have been able to imagine the things that I have had the chance to do in this life. From ROOTS to Star Trek to Reading Rainbow, I am enormously grateful that my work represents an effort to not simply entertain, but to educate as well.

Even perhaps enlighten a little, along the way.

The future? I can't wait to see what happens next.

lovewhatyouboo32 karma

What artists past and or present inspire you the most and why?

_LeVarBurton83 karma

I'm a huge Van Morrison fan. For me, Van is the singer / songwriter / poet / sinner / saint / troubadour of my generation.

MickyPol27 karma

Hi LeVar! What is your favorite word or phrase?

_LeVarBurton89 karma

Not safe for this conversation! chuckles heartily

madmaxpower923 karma

Do you think social media has an overall positive or negative affect on children?

_LeVarBurton40 karma

Well, depends on what age group you're talking about. I actually don't know many 9 year olds that are on social media. When you say "social media," I think of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, those kinds of things.

Imnotathreat21 karma

Weren't you captured by pirates with Troy Barnes?

_LeVarBurton36 karma

Yes, I was.

Mastotron9 karma

Hey Levar, what's for lunch?

_LeVarBurton22 karma

Hmmmm - well, now I'm pretty hungry for barbecue, since someone mentioned it earlier!

ThatSuperNerd5 karma

Good Morning LeVar! Thank you so much for Reading Rainbow when I was growing up. Now to share it with my children is really special. Also avid Star Trek fans, we love you for Geordi. I have been a since I can remember, what was your favorite project in your 30's? If there would have been a compelling story, would you have played Geordi as his own Starship Captain or Head of Starfleet Engineering? But just one more time, thank you so much for all you have done. You gave me a life long passion for reading as a child and I have never lost it.

_LeVarBurton13 karma


I think it would've been fun to have explored the character of Geordi as the captain of his own ship!

TheCatMurgatroyd3 karma

I don't read as much as I should... I mostly read biographies or only books of celebritys that I know and think are awesome... (I love Colin Mochries book "not quite the classics"... just plain awesome!)

I didn't read any important books in school, cause I was on a stupid school... (German Haupschule... If you even know our school system :) )

what books should I get myself and read or at least try to read (I might not finish it, if I stop reading and don't pick it up fast enough :/)? And do you have any other tips on how I can read more? I would really like to read more I just never want to buy a new book -.-'

also... sorry for my english (I'm german if that is a good excuse :P)

_LeVarBurton4 karma

Oh, boy! I'm sorry to hear that you feel like you went to a stupid school, and takes no joy from reading. My suggestion might be to try audio literature - listening to books can be almost as enjoyable an experience as reading, or as enjoyable an experience. Maybe you just need to try a different way of enjoying literature!

BisonWarrior3 karma

What's your favorite line you delivered as a character?

_LeVarBurton21 karma

chuckles heartily

The most memorable I think I've delivered, and certainly one of my favorites, is from Reading Rainbow - "But you don't have to take MY word for it."

Warlizard2 karma

Heya LeVar.

You've had an interesting career. Are there anything moments you wish you could change, opportunities you missed, or things you'd do differently if you had the chance?


_LeVarBurton6 karma

I'm not the sort of person who looks back on my life with any amount of regret. Given the chance to do it all over again, I'd like to think I'd make the same choices for the most part.

redgiant872 karma

If Star Trek came back to television in some form, do you think you and the other Star Trek actor/directors would be interested in directing for it again?

_LeVarBurton8 karma

I don't see why not? It would really depend on the quality of the storytelling!

pdoggie2 karma

Hi LeVar, today is my birthday. What was your best birthday ever?

_LeVarBurton5 karma


Well, at this point in my life, I've had quite a few! Usually I'm working on my birthday. However, this past February, I was kidnapped by my wife, and taken on a fun weekend in Santa Barbara.

She made all the arrangements, and paid for everything. It was really fun.

madmaxpower92 karma

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

_LeVarBurton7 karma

I used to be a night owl when I was younger.

I think I'm a middle of the day person, currently! Ha ha ha! That's when I'm at my best.

suaveitguy2 karma

Do you think crowdfunding will have a bigger impact on media production in the future? I can see it working kind of like presales. Produce a trailer/script, then scale a project to the amount raised.

_LeVarBurton9 karma

I think that crowdfunding has already had a major impact on production, and I can only expect that that impact will continue to grow.

madmaxpower91 karma

If you could ask questions to anyone dead or alive on Reddit, who would it be?

_LeVarBurton3 karma

Are there dead people on reddit? I'm just kidding!

Let's see...If I could ask questions of anybody, dead or alive, who would it be...

That's actually a pretty good question.

You know, I would love to have another conversation with Steve McQueen.

madmaxpower91 karma

Do you believe in charter schools?

_LeVarBurton4 karma

I believe in educating our children in the best way imaginable. Taking into account that different school districts have different needs, populations, and resources, I believe charter schools to be a valuable component in the mix.