I might not remember the book reviews, and I’ve long since forgotten the guest stars, but I recently realized that “Reading Rainbow” has stuck with me well into adulthood for one big reason – its highly infectious, yet simple, theme song about the power of reading.
Usually I think of the song when I see a “butterfly in the sky,” the first line from the show’s theme performed by Tina Fabrique. The uplifting lyrics and can-do spirit, combined with the message of being able to do “anything” when you read, always take me back to my early grade school days.
I think my love for this show was due to a couple of personality traits I had as a young child – I absolutely loved reading, tearing through pretty much every book I could get my hands on, and I grew up in a house where “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was more likely to be on the TV than pretty much any other show. So I guess it wasn’t surprising that I watched this show all the time, both to learn more about the written word and to see how much more normal LeVar Burton looked when he wasn’t wearing that dorky visor that, apparently, is how blind people will see in the future (at least according to Star Trek).
My knowledge of “Reading Rainbow” helped me learn how to write the best vague book reports in grade school. I think my closing line in every fifth grade book report was “But you don’t have to take my word for it,” which actually is the exact phrase LeVar Burton would use to introduce kids’ book reviews on the show. With a line like that, it was easy to pretend that I meant my classmates should read the book for themselves to find out how it ends – but it really was just a convenient way of omitting the fact that I usually didn’t know the conclusion because I hadn’t finished the assigned book.
I stopped watching the show sometime in the mid-1990s (somewhere in the middle of the show’s 1983 to 2009 television run) and, eventually, forgot about my love for “Reading Rainbow.” But to this day, the theme song instantly pops into my head whenever I see a butterfly.
And who doesn’t like getting a blast of nostalgia from such a simple sight?
You can also check out a Chaka Khan version of the theme used in the show after 1999 (it’s pretty bad, but maybe you’ll like it better than me). And here’s a funny clip from “Community” when LeVar Burton visits a starstruck Troy:
Theme Song Thursday is a weekly look back at memorable, not-so-influential, nostalgia-inducing theme songs by the Herald’s Melinda Lavine and Ryan Johnson. Click here to read other Theme Song Thursday posts and feel free to share!