We are Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr, husband/ wife, author/illustrator creators of middle grade and picture books—here to tell you about our literacy access initiative, the Busload of Books.
Along the way we partnered with Washington College to facilitate the first-ever, large-scale research study of how author/illustrator visits impact elementary student attitudes about reading, writing, and drawing.
Our Colorful, Rolling Billboard for Literacy
Our 24-foot Thomas school bus (home for our year on the road) comes with us to every Title I school visit. After each assembly, kids come out to see the bus, take class photos, and meet our dogs.
The Next Phase
We’re in the process of raising funds and building more partnerships to continue this work in the 2024-2025 school year.
Our plans include:
Live virtual assemblies, free to any Title I community, with rotating programming throughout the year.
Monthly Title I elementary school visits with free assemblies, books, and “reading buddies” for every student and teacher (in partnership with First Book and Build-A-Bear Foundation).
Ongoing research partnership with Washington College. The data we collect has the potential to transform funding and priority for future literacy programming.
Busload of Books Research Project
We’re partnering with the departments of education and sociology at Washington College to conduct the first-ever, large-scale study of how author/illustrator visits impact attitudes about literacy and creativity among elementary school students. The resulting data will fill a critical gap in the research on this topic—and could provide powerful tools for school administrators and teachers trying to secure funding and priority for literacy programming.
We’re partnering with a national nonprofit, a leading liberal arts college, a beloved local arts organization, and our generous publisher.
helps us identify the schools we visit—and works with our publishers to print and get books to Title I students and teachers.
is using data we collect to analyze the impact of author/illustrator visits on attitudes regarding reading, writing, and drawing.
KENT CULTURAL ALLIANCE
makes our work possible by accepting tax-deductible donations on our behalf.
helped us identify the schools we’ll visit—and is working with our publishers to get our books to students and teachers.
is using our tour to conduct a major study that will fill a critical gap in the research on the impact of author/illustrator visits.
KENT CULTURAL ALLIANCE
is filling our bus with hometown pride and accepting tax-deductible donations on our behalf.
Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr are the author and illustrator of the Cookie Chronicles series, The Real McCoys trilogy, the forthcoming Life on the Moon and the picture books Sunrise Summer, Babies Ruin Everything, and Everywhere, Wonder. When not advocating for educational equity, giving talks on creativity, or commercial salmon fishing in Alaska, they live with their four kids and two dogs in the hayloft of an old barn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Read more about us
in the Washington Post!
Actor, Artist, Entrepreneur
Grumpy Old Man
Alien Fur Bug
THE DREW BARRYMORE SHOW
Live appearance from McElwain Elementary in Denver, Colorado (as part of the Busload of Books Tour)
WASHINGTON POST 2019
Four-page profile of our lives as creators (cover story of magazine insert). Click here to read.
Print and online feature in People’s Smile section.
NYT bestselling author MeiMei Fox on the Busload of Books Tour. Read it here.
WASHINGTON POST 2021
Feature on the launch of The Cookie of Perfection and the Busload of Books Tour here.
Cover story about the Busload of Books Tour. Read it here.
WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS
A conversation about how illustration can be a form of authorship—and a tool for increasing representation in kid lit. Click here to read.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
An interview with fellow author Betsy Bird—about our creative process and the Busload of Books Tour. Click here to read.
RELUCTANT READER BOOKS
Our favorite-ever review of The Cookie Chronicles—and why these books are a good match for readers trying to find their footing. Read it here.
NEW YORK TIMES
An interview with the ArtsBeats blog about our indie press Idiots’Books. Read it here.
The official book-world announcement of the Busload of Books Tour is here.
We join LinkedIn’s Jessi Hempel for a conversation about leaving our day jobs to make books and kids. Listen here.
END BOOK DESERTS
We talk with teacher, scholar, author, and literacy advocate Molly Ness about the Busload of Books Tour here.
THE AUTONOMOUS CREATIVE PODCAST
Our conversation with comic artist Jessica Abel about risk, reward, and making your own luck can be found here.
THE AUTONOMOUS CREATIVE - with video!
Our conversation with comic artist Jessica Abel about risk, reward, and making your own luck. The crowdcast can be found here.