Actor and author LeVar Burton, famous for hosting “Reading Rainbow” and starring in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” will be the new host of the National Book Awards after Drew Barrymore’s invitation to host was rescinded, according to People.
Drew Barrymore was originally supposed to host the 74th National Book Awards ceremony and benefit dinner. Due to her decision to continue her show amid a writers strike, however, the National Book Foundation took back the invitation in September.
“Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the Awards remains on celebrating writers and books,” the National Book Foundation said in a statement Friday. The writers strike ended Sept. 27, but an actors strike is ongoing.
“The Drew Barrymore Show” is now expected to return upon the ending of the strike, according to sources close to her, People reported. (RELATED: Drew Barrymore Gives In After Facing Backlash, Won’t Resume Show Until Strike Concludes).
“I’m a big believer in the power of the written word, and am proud to stand alongside the National Book Foundation to celebrate exceptional storytelling and the Foundation’s mission to make books accessible to everyone, everywhere,” Burton said in a statement.
“It’s an honor to return as host of the biggest night for books, especially in a moment when the freedom to read is at risk and literature both needs and deserves our recognition and support,” he continued. Burton previously hosted the awards ceremony in 2019, according to People.
— National Book Foundation (@nationalbook) October 13, 2023
“LeVar Burton has introduced multiple generations of young people to the joys of reading, and is a fearless advocate for book access, especially amidst the alarming rise in book banning across the country,” David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation, said in a statement.
“We are delighted to welcome LeVar back onto the National Book Awards stage, alongside special guest Oprah Winfrey, to champion the power of literature as the host this year’s Ceremony & Benefit Dinner,” Steinberger continued.
Burton, a director and producer, is also known for his role in “Roots,” an ABC miniseries, the National Book Foundation noted. He is the author of “The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm” and “Aftermath.” He also has a podcast, “LeVar Burton Reads,” where he discusses and reads fiction short stories.
The National Book Awards ceremony and benefit dinner is set to take place Nov. 15 in New York City.