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Raven-Symoné and LeVar Burton Honored for Work in Kids Programming

Raven and LaVar
Raven-Symoné and LeVar Burton / Getty

*Raven-Symoné and LeVar Burton were among the honorees at Variety’s first-ever Family Entertainment Awards, presented by Kidoodle.

Raven-Symoné, star of “Raven’s Home” and Burton, beloved host of “Reading Rainbow,” received the storytelling visionary award for their contributions to kids’ programming, Variety reports. 

“Kids are the smartest people I know,” Raven-Symoné told audience members at The West Hollywood Edition. “The family space and the kids’ space is worthy of bold, thought-provoking content. They can handle it.”

The other honorees at the Dec. 8 ceremony included the creators of “Cobra Kai,” Pete Docter, chief creative officer at Pixar Animation, Julian Shapiro-Barnum, creator of the web series “Recess Therapy,” and the executive producers of “SpongeBob Squarepants” and SpongeBob voice actor Tom Kenny, who received the franchise award from Nickelodeon Animation president Ramsey Naito, per Variety. 

READ MORE: Kanye West Confesses He Never Reads Books – LeVar Burton Reacts | VIDEO

LeVar Burton
LeVar Burton accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award onstage during the 2022 Children’s & Family Emmys at Wilshire Ebell Theatre on December 11, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

“I do believe, like Raven, that [children] deserve the best of what we have to offer,” Burton said during his acceptance speech. “I’ve never been ashamed, I’ve never backed into that which I do in this space, because our kids deserve it.”

Earlier this year, Burton addressed the cultural impact of the “Roots” miniseries, based on Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. It aired on ABC for eight consecutive nights, beginning on Jan. 23, 1977.

“I continue to be surprised by the enduring popularity of Roots worldwide,” Burton told PEOPLE. “I’ve been to places on the globe like Suriname, where Kunta Kinte is a national hero and songs are literally written about him. Kunta Kinte is an international symbol of freedom and resistance, is something that I’m really, really proud of. And that’s something that has certainly grown over time. I don’t think I could be more proud.”

Burton won the role of Kunta Kinte while he was a sophomore at the University of Southern California. He described his first day on set as “more inspiring than it was intimidating.”

“Roots” won nine of the 37 Emmys for which it was nominated and was watched by more than 255 million households. Years after the mini-series aired, Burton continued his small-screen success with “Reading Rainbow.”

“When I was presented a few years later with the idea of using the medium of television to steer children back in the direction of literature and the written word during the summer months, I thought, ‘Yeah, that makes sense to me,'” he shared with PEOPLE. “Reading Rainbow was a good idea, a good use of the television airwaves and a perfectly legitimate way for me to tell stories to perhaps the most important audience for all of us.”

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