New TikTok audio leans into ‘Reading Rainbow’ nostalgia

TikTok - Reading Rainbow
Photo via A FUSCO/YouTube

TikTok is home to a seemingly never-ending stream of trends, challenges, and viral moments. Creators flock to the app to share amusing experiences, dance, and occasionally indulge their nostalgia through a timely trend that leans on special childhood memories.

Such is the case with the video-sharing app’s latest trend, which uses audio from the decades-long run of PBS’s Reading Rainbow. The educational children’s television series ran for more than 20 years, between 1983 and 2006, and became a staple of hundreds of thousands of childhoods during its run. The audio that accompanies the show’s intro is instantly recognizable to fans of the former series and has become the official soundtrack for TikTok’s latest trend.

TikTok’s Reading Rainbow filter


Well see…a bunch of dudes decided that sociology was physics…

♬ Reading Rainbow Theme Song – Reading Rainbow

On TikTok, the Reading Rainbow filter is typically used to emphasize a situation in which someone feels out of their depth. The audio is commonly paired with a space-themed background, which drifts past several planets, and the sun, along with a set of daunting math to really drive home how lost people feel in a given situation.

Most of the videos participating in the trend clock in at less than 15 seconds, using just the opening lines from the intro to PBS’s popular series. Uploads cover everything from concepts that are difficult to grasp — like daylight savings time — to amusing or baffling childhood stories.

The filter also prompted a hilarious exchange of stories, after one creator used it to detail the two weeks she drank “vodka” flavored coffee, only to later learn that “Bailey’s Irish Cream is, in fact, alcohol.” This prompted another creator to share her story of accidental alcohol use in the comment section, and ultimately inspired her to make her own TikTok discussing the week her mom “accidentally packed Mike’s Hard Lemonade” into her school lunches.

There’s really no limit to what the Reading Rainbow theme can accompany, as proved by the massive range of TikToks leaning into the trend. Hundreds of creators have already found a use for the popular audio, and it doesn’t look ready to slow down any time soon.

About the author

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila carefully obsesses over all things geekdom and gaming, bringing her embarrassingly expansive expertise to the team at We Got This Covered. She is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor with a focus on comics, video games, and most importantly 'Lord of the Rings,' putting her Bachelors from the University of Texas at Austin to good use. Her work has been featured alongside the greats at NPR, the Daily Dot, and Nautilus Magazine.