LeVar Burton is among the rare elite of actors who can apply one-word names to his iconic roles. One look at the star’s social media proves the point. LeVar Burton not only assumed the part of Kunta Kinte in the 1977 television epic, “Roots,” based on Alex Haley's unprecedented chronicle of the African-American journey, but also became symbolic of resilience, humid fortitude, and dignity through trials.

LeVar Burton was only 19 when he embodied the presence of the film character, transported at age 15 to a Virginia plantation for lifetime servitude. The star transported himself and faithful “Trekkies” several eras into the future as Geordi on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Once on “Star Trek,” forever immortal, as faithful fans surely attest.

LeVar Burton attests that his most lasting role was one he took on in 1983, between his iconic characters. For millions of children and youth, Burton became a human portal through the pages of literature. On PBS’ “Reading Rainbow,” the thespian made forever friends, not only through his selections of so many gifted authors and books but because his enthusiasm and passion for storytelling was so unquenchable and pure.

If ever a presence in resilience, strength, and solace through a comforting voice was needed, now is the time, as self-quarantines and surging tolls fill the national headlines and troubled hearts in this time of coronavirus. LeVar Burton is no scientist, but his storytelling is like no one else can deliver.

The literary giant to millions of children and parents told “CBS This Morning” about his new online storytelling offering, “LeVar Burton Reads” on April 6.

All ages are invited by the celebrated reader, and authors are being more than generous with their works. More than ever, Burton wants to share the comfort of a captivating story.

LeVar Burton didn't have to wait long to go beyond public domain pages

The convenience of instant cyber connection is providing the only kind of closeness that many people have to friends, family, and social groups these days, but sharing books online still has legalities. When LeVar Burton presented his proposal for online reading, Burton was asked to peruse public domain material for his selections and found nothing too savory.

“I just wasn't finding anything that I was compelled to want to read,” lamented the literary advocate. Not unlike millions of others, LeVar Burton took to Twitter to vent his frustration. In addition to understanding friends, LaVar got a more than friendly accommodation from English novelist, Neil Gaiman. The author granted open-ended permission for Burton to use any of his works for “LeVar Burton Reads,” with full consent by HarperCollins.

Neil Gaiman is well known for his comic book series, “The Sandman” and his novels, “American Gods,” “Stardust,“ and “Coraline.” He has earned Newberry and Carnegie medals, and in 2013, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” was named Book of the Year by the British National Book Awards.

Adults and youth alike will find tantalizing fodder from this author as a start off with LeVar Burton. Neil Gaiman's short stories will be featured first.

Other friends and authors are happy to let LeVar Burton tell their stories

LeVar Burton has a luminous list of friends from the small screen to the large, and from little ones to their parents from his legacy with “Reading Rainbow.” It wasn't long before he found out that many of his author friends felt perfectly fine about Burton reading their books online.

“The floodgates just opened up,” Burton gushed to “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Anthony Mason. It didn't take long for superstar authors to step forward with generosity.

Amazing Grace” author, Mary Hoffman, also graciously allowed full access to her works.

Her 1991 classic is a permanent fixture in public libraries worldwide, not to mention countless early childhood classrooms. Her 90 works span children's, teens, and adult literature.

Jason Reynolds is also in the queue of authors on LeVar Burton’s expanding list. From his 2020 collaboration with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,” which has already been revised as a youth edition, to the novel, “Long Way Down,” and many more, this author’s work is transforming his generation.

Things that make a good read for LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton would be the first to agree that these times are like no other, but there have been other sieges that America has survived.

In these confusing times, especially when statements change from the chief executive with every briefing, the host steers clear of “anything dark or dystopian.” In contrast, “things that comfort, things that make us laugh,” and pages with a positive, lingering lesson are the preferred fare.

Every reader has had the experience of wanting to run into the next room or to a coworker’s cubicle and say, “Listen to this.” That same urge has to strike Burton as he makes his reading choices.

Gayle King was giddy with delight to welcome the “Reading Rainbow” pilot to morning TV Shows again, and her co-anchor, Tony Dukoupil asked a question only a weary self-contained dad would ask. LeVar Burton is starting this week with a collection of Jason Reynolds’ short stories, “Look Both Ways” and always endorses “Amazing Grace” for any age or gender of children.

If children can't tune in for the few minutes of a story, as Tony questioned, a snippet of Shel Silverstein poetry is still a perfect dose of literature.

From below the ground to the stratosphere, LeVar Burton has taken millions of readers on a marvelous journey.

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