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The Daily Minute: 1.3.23
In which our spirits are high as the sun shines down on the mountains of northeast Alabama. 

#busloadofbooks

The Daily Minute: 1.3.23
In which our spirits are high as the sun shines down on the mountains of northeast Alabama.

#busloadofbooks
...

21 2
Hi Friends! Today we’re in Alabama, whose official flower is the camellia (they smell SO good), official dance is the squaredance, and state motto is Share the Wonder.

Alabama also has a state language — English. A few over half the US states have an official language. On a federal level, though, the US has none. Many people speak English, but there are actually more than 400 languages spoken and signed within our country! And nearly 200 of these are indigenous. 

Although Alabama’s past, as with much of the South, has at times been fraught with injustice, it, because of this, also gave rise to many champions of difference and equality.

Many strides for the Civil Rights movement were made in AL — it was in Montgomery, for example, that Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat on the bus to the white man demanding it. 

Actually, not many know that a few months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, another woman, only 15, did the same, and was arrested — her name was Claudette Colvin, an activist in her own right.

Jesse Owens, the inspiring four-time 1936 Berlin Olympics track-and-field gold-medalist, came from AL, too, as did Helen Keller, the author and disability rights activist, a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the first deafblind woman in the US to earn a BA.

AL also has a diverse environment — in fact, the state is 70% forest and ranks 5th for biodiversity! 

In fact, AL has an odd monument to the boll weevil, a destructive critter which used to devour cotton farms. This forced AL to diversify its crops, which ended up being better for the land itself.

On the industry side of things, up in Huntsville, you'll find the US Space and Rocket Center — the largest spaceflight museum in the world. Saturn V, the rocket that powered the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, was built nearby.

Oh yeah, and on the subject of flights — apparently, when airline luggage is truly lost, and all efforts to return it to its original owners fail, it ends up in Scottsboro, AL. The Unclaimed Baggage Center sells the luggage contents as if it were a thrift store. Which is actually wild.

Hi Friends! Today we’re in Alabama, whose official flower is the camellia (they smell SO good), official dance is the squaredance, and state motto is Share the Wonder.

Alabama also has a state language — English. A few over half the US states have an official language. On a federal level, though, the US has none. Many people speak English, but there are actually more than 400 languages spoken and signed within our country! And nearly 200 of these are indigenous.

Although Alabama’s past, as with much of the South, has at times been fraught with injustice, it, because of this, also gave rise to many champions of difference and equality.

Many strides for the Civil Rights movement were made in AL — it was in Montgomery, for example, that Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat on the bus to the white man demanding it. 

Actually, not many know that a few months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, another woman, only 15, did the same, and was arrested — her name was Claudette Colvin, an activist in her own right.

Jesse Owens, the inspiring four-time 1936 Berlin Olympics track-and-field gold-medalist, came from AL, too, as did Helen Keller, the author and disability rights activist, a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the first deafblind woman in the US to earn a BA.

AL also has a diverse environment — in fact, the state is 70% forest and ranks 5th for biodiversity! 

In fact, AL has an odd monument to the boll weevil, a destructive critter which used to devour cotton farms. This forced AL to diversify its crops, which ended up being better for the land itself.

On the industry side of things, up in Huntsville, you'll find the US Space and Rocket Center — the largest spaceflight museum in the world. Saturn V, the rocket that powered the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, was built nearby.

Oh yeah, and on the subject of flights — apparently, when airline luggage is truly lost, and all efforts to return it to its original owners fail, it ends up in Scottsboro, AL. The Unclaimed Baggage Center sells the luggage contents as if it were a thrift store. Which is actually wild.
...

35 2
The Daily Minute: 1.2.23
In which Jasper reports on his very good day at Madison Cross Roads Elementary. 

#busloadofbooks

The Daily Minute: 1.2.23
In which Jasper reports on his very good day at Madison Cross Roads Elementary.

#busloadofbooks
...

64 8
Five months into the tour, the map is filling up. We’ve visited 33 schools, handed out roughly 16,000 books, and driven 16,731 miles. 
 
January was a month to remember. We woke on New Year’s Day to a glimpse of the Pacific then weathered an atmospheric river in San Francisco. We met creator heroes Lemony Snicket and Raina Telgemeier, rode a steam train in a ghost town, saw Cirque du Soleil, and strolled the Vegas strip. We drove through a blizzard in Arizona and rode a helicopter into the Grand Canyon. We watched a cattle drive in Fort Worth, found fossils in Mineral Wells, and were not abducted by aliens in Roswell.
 
We’ve visited school after school full of educators working tirelessly on behalf of their students. To honor their efforts, we’ve been sharing the many good things happening in these schools. But the communities we’re visiting are beset with challenges that remain when the bus pulls away. 
 
Kids suffering from hunger, homelessness, and trauma. Students grappling with having lost family members to violence, drugs, and Covid. 
 
It’s hard to teach a kid to read when they’re exhausted from watching their siblings while their mom works three jobs—or because they’ve been placed in a foster home because both parents are struggling with addiction. Imagine having to navigate these situations at age eight and then be expected to learn your times tables. 
 
Poverty is the underlying problem. Not the schools. Not the teachers. Not the kids. 
 
Gross inequity creates intractable crises our schools are being asked to handle. They get so little credit for their efforts and come under fire when the challenges they inherit are seen as problems they’re not solving. 
 
Our nation’s 47,000+ Title I schools are being asked to do much more than teach academic subjects. They’re also serving as community clinics and food banks, dispensing clothing and mental health services. We must fund them as such—and provide the staff and training needed to address the host of challenges they face. 
 
Otherwise, we’re setting educators up for failure or burnout or both. Is this the kind of country we want to be? Asking for 16,000 new friends. 
 
#busloadofbooks

Five months into the tour, the map is filling up. We’ve visited 33 schools, handed out roughly 16,000 books, and driven 16,731 miles.
 
January was a month to remember. We woke on New Year’s Day to a glimpse of the Pacific then weathered an atmospheric river in San Francisco. We met creator heroes Lemony Snicket and Raina Telgemeier, rode a steam train in a ghost town, saw Cirque du Soleil, and strolled the Vegas strip. We drove through a blizzard in Arizona and rode a helicopter into the Grand Canyon. We watched a cattle drive in Fort Worth, found fossils in Mineral Wells, and were not abducted by aliens in Roswell.
 
We’ve visited school after school full of educators working tirelessly on behalf of their students. To honor their efforts, we’ve been sharing the many good things happening in these schools. But the communities we’re visiting are beset with challenges that remain when the bus pulls away.
 
Kids suffering from hunger, homelessness, and trauma. Students grappling with having lost family members to violence, drugs, and Covid.
 
It’s hard to teach a kid to read when they’re exhausted from watching their siblings while their mom works three jobs—or because they’ve been placed in a foster home because both parents are struggling with addiction. Imagine having to navigate these situations at age eight and then be expected to learn your times tables.
 
Poverty is the underlying problem. Not the schools. Not the teachers. Not the kids.
 
Gross inequity creates intractable crises our schools are being asked to handle. They get so little credit for their efforts and come under fire when the challenges they inherit are seen as problems they’re not solving.
 
Our nation’s 47,000+ Title I schools are being asked to do much more than teach academic subjects. They’re also serving as community clinics and food banks, dispensing clothing and mental health services. We must fund them as such—and provide the staff and training needed to address the host of challenges they face.
 
Otherwise, we’re setting educators up for failure or burnout or both. Is this the kind of country we want to be? Asking for 16,000 new friends.
 
#busloadofbooks
...

316 29
The Daily Minute: 2.1.23
In which we eschew the rustic campground in favor of a six-minute chicken sandwich. 

#busloadofbooks

The Daily Minute: 2.1.23
In which we eschew the rustic campground in favor of a six-minute chicken sandwich.

#busloadofbooks
...

46 1
The Daily Minute: 1.31.23
In which we visit the hardware store where Elvis bought his first guitar. 

#busloadofbooks

The Daily Minute: 1.31.23
In which we visit the hardware store where Elvis bought his first guitar.

#busloadofbooks
...

54 5
The Daily Minute: 1.30.23
In which we bid farewell to the wonderful folks at Maynard Elementary. 

#busloadofbooks

The Daily Minute: 1.30.23
In which we bid farewell to the wonderful folks at Maynard Elementary.

#busloadofbooks
...

58 3
Isabel reporting! Today’s state is home to my new favorite demonyms: Arkansan, Arkansaywer, Arkanite.

The Arkansas state flower is the apple blossom, state beverage is (what else?) milk, and the state food is pecan! This Land of Opportunity even has a state dino: the Arkansaurus Fridayi.

What folks in other parts of the country call a “soda,” “pop,” or (like me) “soft drink,” Arkansawyers call “coke” — yep, even Sprite!

Today, Arkansas is the only state that mines diamonds. In fact, the largest diamond found in North America — the Uncle Sam diamond — came from AR in what is now Crater of Diamonds State Park. This is one of the only diamond mines in the world where visitors can keep what they find!

A little north, you’ll find Hot Springs, where the waters reach 140*F. Its baths have had famed visitors from the mobster Al Capone and president FDR to baseball legend Babe Ruth!

AR was once called the Toothpick State. In the 1800s many residents carried daggers in their belts. These had many uses, but were politely (or ironically!) referred to as “toothpicks.”

In 1899, author Ernest Hemingway was born. Although he travelled the world, he spent portions of the 1920s and ‘30s in AR, where he penned A Farewell to Arms. The story goes that, when a fire broke out in 1932, he salvaged his manuscripts by throwing them out of the second-floor window!

Not all history is made so easily.

After Brown v Board of Education, which ruled segregation in schools was unconstitutional, Little Rock Central High in AR, like 1000s of others, was desegregated. The Little Rock Nine made history for Civil Rights when they attended school despite horrible treatment; the AR government was actively unsupportive of integration (going so far as to send the state national guard to prevent the entry of Black students into the school). President Eisenhower had to call in federal troops to protect the children’s historic entry into the school.

Recalling this all-too-recent time in our country’s history served, for me, as a reminder that every day I got to spend peacefully in school was and is a privilege — a blessing — and reinforced the belief that school should be a *right* for all.

Isabel reporting! Today’s state is home to my new favorite demonyms: Arkansan, Arkansaywer, Arkanite.

The Arkansas state flower is the apple blossom, state beverage is (what else?) milk, and the state food is pecan! This Land of Opportunity even has a state dino: the Arkansaurus Fridayi.

What folks in other parts of the country call a “soda,” “pop,” or (like me) “soft drink,” Arkansawyers call “coke” — yep, even Sprite!

Today, Arkansas is the only state that mines diamonds. In fact, the largest diamond found in North America — the Uncle Sam diamond — came from AR in what is now Crater of Diamonds State Park. This is one of the only diamond mines in the world where visitors can keep what they find!

A little north, you’ll find Hot Springs, where the waters reach 140*F. Its baths have had famed visitors from the mobster Al Capone and president FDR to baseball legend Babe Ruth!

AR was once called the Toothpick State. In the 1800s many residents carried daggers in their belts. These had many uses, but were politely (or ironically!) referred to as “toothpicks.”

In 1899, author Ernest Hemingway was born. Although he travelled the world, he spent portions of the 1920s and ‘30s in AR, where he penned A Farewell to Arms. The story goes that, when a fire broke out in 1932, he salvaged his manuscripts by throwing them out of the second-floor window!

Not all history is made so easily.

After Brown v Board of Education, which ruled segregation in schools was unconstitutional, Little Rock Central High in AR, like 1000s of others, was desegregated. The Little Rock Nine made history for Civil Rights when they attended school despite horrible treatment; the AR government was actively unsupportive of integration (going so far as to send the state national guard to prevent the entry of Black students into the school). President Eisenhower had to call in federal troops to protect the children’s historic entry into the school.

Recalling this all-too-recent time in our country’s history served, for me, as a reminder that every day I got to spend peacefully in school was and is a privilege — a blessing — and reinforced the belief that school should be a *right* for all.
...

49 0
The Daily Minute: 1.29.23
In which Matthew caves to social pressure and opts not to jump in the hot springs. 

#busloadofbooks

The Daily Minute: 1.29.23
In which Matthew caves to social pressure and opts not to jump in the hot springs.

#busloadofbooks
...

42 1
The Daily Minute: 1.28.23
In which we find no diamonds and deliver the definitive verdict on pickled quail eggs. 

#busloadofbooks

The Daily Minute: 1.28.23
In which we find no diamonds and deliver the definitive verdict on pickled quail eggs.

#busloadofbooks
...

90 6
In which Alden takes you back till late September in western Massachusetts, when Dumbles attempts to cross a rocky stream and we visit MASS MoCa.

#busloadofbooks

In which Alden takes you back till late September in western Massachusetts, when Dumbles attempts to cross a rocky stream and we visit MASS MoCa.

#busloadofbooks
...

45 6
In which Matthew’s attempt to point out Robbi’s questionable choice of footwear backfires in profound-yet-predictable fashion.

#busloadofbooks

In which Matthew’s attempt to point out Robbi’s questionable choice of footwear backfires in profound-yet-predictable fashion.

#busloadofbooks
...

38 2

The Busload of Books Tour is a yearlong project to promote literacy and raise awareness of the challenges facing our nation’s public schools.

Author/illustrator duo Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr (that’s us) and our four kids are spending the 2022-2023 school year traveling the country in a school bus/tiny home, visiting Title I schools in all 50 states (plus DC), and giving away 25,000 hardcover books to students and teachers from underserved communities.

Along the way, we’ll be conducting a major research project, making a picture book about America, and inviting our followers to join us on a yearlong exploration of our country’s unsung wonders and off-the-beaten-path communities.

As we travel, we will be blogging, vlogging, and posting daily to social media. All content will be appropriate for elementary-aged students who want to join us for the ultimate road trip.

Whoever you are, take your seat on the bus!

Our adventure is your adventure. Our country is your country, too. Follow along with us!