LeVar Burton recently visited an elementary school in Burbank, California, to discuss the importance of reading.
Urban Hollywood 411 was there as Burton spent an afternoon at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School. The former Reading Rainbow host walked inside a classroom of excited first and second graders, and hosted an interactive read-along.
He asked the children questions and encouraged them to continue to dive into books as part of an Osmo educational event for International Literacy Day.
Burton said reading offers an “opportunity to help our children reach their most full potential.”
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The read-along came just weeks after the actor called efforts by conservatives to ban books in public schools and school libraries “embarrassing.”
During a June appearance on The View, Joy Behar asked his thoughts on the “ongoing push to ban important children’s books, especially about race, sexuality and basically American history.”
Burton did not hold back.
“I’ll be absolutely candid and honest, it’s embarrassing that we are banning books in this country, in this culture, in this day and age,” he told Behar. “We have this aversion in this country to knowing about our past. And anything that is unpleasant, we don’t want to do deal with.”
The Roots actor added that difficult subjects should not be ignored.
“This is not going away. Nothing goes away, especially if you ignore it,” he said. “So, read the books they’re banning. That’s where the good stuff is. If they don’t want you to read it, there’s a reason why.”
According to a report by literary group PEN America, 1,145 book titles were banned across the U.S. between July 2021 and March of this year. The group called the increase in banned books “alarming,” and said bans have occurred in 26 states, affecting over 2 million students.