My Reading Life – Traveling With Books by Regina Renee

“Butterfly in the sky

I can go twice as high

Take a look

It’s in a book

A Reading Rainbow


I can go anywhere

Friends to know

And ways to grow

A Reading Rainbow


I can be anything

Take a look

It’s in a book

Reading Rainbow

Reading Rainbow”

(Reading Rainbow Theme Song)


Most people I know are at least passingly familiar with the theme song from Reading Rainbow. If they don’t know anything else, they know “Take a look, It’s in a book; Reading Rainbow.” For me, it is the second verse that speaks to my condition… “I can go anywhere; Friends to know; And ways to grow”… The idea of traveling with books is so profound to me because as a reader I can live so many experiences that I couldn’t possibly have in my own lifetime.


“I Can Go Anywhere”

Full disclosure: I am the geek that plans travel destinations based on descriptions in books. I know I am not the only one because I recently had a conversation with several book club members and one was reading Australian author, Marcus Zusak’s novels because Australia is one of her bucket list places to travel. Another woman had planned a trip to New Zealand because, you guessed it … Lord of the Rings.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency – Botswana



Beautiful Ruins – Italy


Shadow of the Wind – Spain



“Friends to Know”

I plan the travel itself, not just the destination, based on books as well. When I travel I make it a point to meet as many locals as possible. You never know which stranger may become a new friend. I consider friendship traveling with people, and I often make friends on local public transit while carrying a travel guide or a book by a local author.



Before I go any further, I must share a definition of travel courtesy of my dear friend, Lisa. “Traveling is a privilege. A person can often gain perspective on a situation with increased distance from their home. Traveling involves long slogs on local buses or trains, staying in cheap hostels for a night or two at a time, eating peanut butter on crackers, etc. Vacationing is plopping in one city and relaxing while enjoying all that the cosmopolitan city of choice has to offer.” Generally speaking, I travel with books. At this point, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that I vacation with books as well.


“Ways to Grow”

Finally, I travel back in time with books. Yes, it is true, books can make all things possible including time travel. Rereading a favorite book can transport me back to the time when I first read the book. It is fascinating for me to see how I’ve grown as I interact with familiar texts in new ways. The text hasn’t changed, but I have. This is especially true when I read childhood favorites.


New books that take place in familiar settings have this effect on me as well. I recently read Laurel Snyder’s amazing Seven Stories Up and I was transported to my beloved Baltimore which was my home for 13 years. While I was reading the book, and for several weeks afterward, I experienced many vivid memories of my time there. My first love, my first teaching job, marriage, divorce, extreme highs and lows, all were inextricably tied to this place called Baltimore. All of which came flooding back while reading a wonderful book with a setting that made the book come to life.


seven stories up


I left Baltimore when my father passed away because the city held too many memories. And to put it bluntly, I was running away. While reading Seven Stories Up, I discovered that the memories no longer caused me pain. I was able to visit Baltimore through the pages of a book, and while doing so discovered that I am now ready to visit Baltimore in reality.

“Ways to Grow” indeed.


My dad was a huge Howard Thurman fan. He was known to say, “I sleep and breathe Howard Thurman.”



I am currently reading a 40 Day Journey With Howard Thurman and find myself in constant conversation with my dad as I read. Thurman is a thought-provoking author who shares complex truths in his writing. While my dad was alive, I struggled with Thurman’s writings, in part because I had not experienced enough of the difficult aspects of life. However, I also struggled with Thurman because my dad seemed to have such a firm grasp on his teachings. At the time I thought that I would never have the spiritual maturity to comprehend Thurman’s teachings, but I had my dad so I didn’t have to try very hard. Everything would be explained to me in due course. Fast forward six years and I no longer have my dad with me, but I do have the tenacity he passed down to me and the spiritual development that comes from profound loss and subsequent searching. Yes, I have grown, and my 40 Day Journey with Howard Thurman is all the proof I need.


“I can go anywhere

Friends to know

And ways to grow

A Reading Rainbow”



Regina Renee holds an MLIS from the University of Denver, as well as an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. She has taught in the public school system for 19 years, including 13 years with Baltimore City Public Schools.  Her career in teaching, having close ties with the local public library, and later working in a school without a library, prompted her transition from classroom teacher to public librarian.


Regina Renee served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana and the Philippines.  During this time she performed storytimes, developed a book club for students, provided readers’ and media advisory, and created programming opportunities for students, teachers, and community members.  Regina Renee (@FriendRsquared) currently lives, reads and works in Denver, Colorado. You can also find her at