Actor and literacy advocate LeVar Burton has begun an online book club.
"I am so excited to finally be able to share that today I am launching my first book club ever, on Fable, the new social platform for reading," Burton, who hosted the acclaimed PBS children's series "Reading Rainbow" from 1983 to 2006 and currently hosts a reading podcast, said in a YouTube video Tuesday.
Extolling "the power of storytelling," he said, "[N]ow you and I can explore our love of the written word through some of my favorite books and authors …. I would love for you to join me on this journey." He concluded with his "Reading Rainbow" catchphrase: "But you don't have to take my word for it."
In a separate statement via the Palo Alto, California-based Fable.co, the 64-year-old Burton said James Baldwin's 1953 semiautobiographical classic, "Go Tell It On the Mountain," was his first selection, explaining that it has had "a tremendous impact on my life."
"At a time when Black people had very little representation in the publishing industry, Baldwin delivered a debut novel that introduced to the world an essential voice in American literature," the statement continued. "I am both inspired and energized by the opportunity to not only reread this story but also share my point of view and hear everyone else's as we read together."
Every three months, Burton will choose three works, with one selected for club members to read together and discuss. The others for this first "folio" are science-fiction writer Octavia Butler's 1993 novel, "Parable of the Sower," and editor Jesmyn Ward's 2016 collection of essays and poems, "The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race."
Burton, who burst into public attention and earned an Emmy Award nomination as the teen star of the 1977 miniseries "Roots," went on to play chief engineer Geordi La Forge on the 1987-94 syndicated "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and its spinoff films. Last month, the producers of "Jeopardy!" named him among the final group of guest hosts who will close out the quiz show's 37th season. More than 254,000 people have signed a Change.org petition advocating for Burton as permanent host to succeed the late Alex Trebek.