In their announcement, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATS) saluted Burton as an Emmy icon, stating, “The longtime literacy advocate and host of ‘Reading Rainbow,’ who taught a generation about the joys of reading, has won more than 20 Emmy Awards.”
This will be the first expansion of its kind for the Emmys since 1979, when NATS launched the News & Documentary Emmy Awards and the Sports Emmy Awards. Previously, the children’s and family programming categories were included as a part of the Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony.
President and CEO of NATAS, Adam Sharp, said, “NATAS has always been a leader in recognizing and celebrating excellence in our industry, and nothing is excelling and expanding more dramatically than the children’s and family community. Recent years have seen explosive growth in the quantity and quality of children’s and family programming, and now is the perfect time to acknowledge and honor this impactful content with a dedicated competition and celebration.”
Burton reacted to the news via Twitter, writing “Whoa…” alongside a surprised face emoji. On top of his Emmy Award wins, Burton has won numerous accolades over the course of his career, including the Fred Rogers Award, a Grammy Award for Spoken Word Album, a Peabody Award, an appointment to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Sciences under President Bill Clinton, and his hometown city of Sacramento dedicated a park, naming it in his honor in 2019.
At the park dedication ceremony, Burton extolled the virtues of his mother, a former social worker and English teacher, stating, “Everything I have done in the field of literacy has been in honor of my mother, Irma Jean Christian…[she was] deeply committed to her children achieving their full potential, knowing education was the key.”
Burton is truly a legend in the entertainment industry and aside from his 23-year tenure as host of Reading Rainbow and brief stint as a guest host for Jeopardy!, the Roots and Star Trek: Next Generation star “wears many hats, including actor, director, author, and educator.”
If you want more of LeVar Burton, you can tune in to his podcast LeVar Burton Reads, and listen to Burton’s distinctive voice narrating stories and his “YouTube Series, This Is My Story, which highlights racism in America.” Fans can also watch Burton host the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee this upcoming June, which can be viewed by a live broadcast on IonTV.