Introducing the Bus!
by Matthew
October 24, 2021

In case you’ve been wondering…

The bus in this photo (the one we’ll be living in and driving approximately 25,000 miles on our tour) is a 24-foot school bus with a Thomas body, a Freightliner chassis, and a Caterpillar engine.

Standard school busses are 35 feet, and some can be as long as 45 feet! We don’t trust ourselves to drive something that large and unwieldy.

Our bus is surprisingly maneuverable, doesn’t require a commercial license to operate, and can fit into a standard-sized parking space as long as it’s backed up against the edge of a lot.

Decommissioned school busses can be purchased via auction, but you might be required to cover up the yellow paint before driving it away.

We have bug plans for our bus conversion, which is being done by our amazing friend Brian Thompson of Red Door Remodeling, who I’ll introduce properly in an upcoming post.

We’ll have a small kitchen with a sink, fridge, microwave, toaster oven, and induction cooktop. There will be a cozy dining area with two couch-style seats that convert into a bed for Robbi and me.

We we’re compensating for the lack of square footage by adding a pop-up sleeping compartment for the kids on the roof, accessible via internal hatch and ladder.

We’ll have a bank of six lockers, and every family member will be able to bring as many belongings as can fit inside.

There will be storage bins mounted to the undercarriage, an exterior awning, an on-board generator, and a backup camera for safety.

We won’t have a shower or flushing toilet. (There just isn’t space for one.) But there are plenty to be found at campgrounds and rest stops. And we’ll have a portable toilet for emergencies.

Before we hit the road, Robbi will be covering every inch with a glorious mural. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

If you want a school bus of your own, there are plenty to be had. Just go to the Google and type “skoolie.” Prepare to get lost for a while.

Apparently, if properly maintained, a school bus can drive a million miles.

We aim to test the theory.

There will be many more posts about the bus conversion in the days ahead. For now, we just wanted to give you the chance to say hello.

To learn more or buy a book for a kid:


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The Busload of Books Tour is a year-long 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 will spend 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.

As we travel, we will be blogging, vlogging and posting frequently to social media. All of our content will be appropriate for bringing families and students along on our ultimate road trip.

The latest on Instagram:

The Daily Minute: 2.21.24
In which, 35 training sessions later, Jasper is ready to pilot the big cart.

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Robbi and I are heading to your fair city on Sunday for a busy week of back-to-back school visits. We’ll be doing many presentations, various lunches, several dinners, and an evening meet-and-greet. (This is where you come in.)
Should you care to meet us or greet us or give us a hug, we’ll be at the Glenside Library in Glendale Heights from 3:30-5:00pm next Tuesday night (Feb 27), meeting and greeting and hopefully seeing you.

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The Daily Minute: 2.20.24
In which Robbi is on strike, Jasper shows no mercy, and Dumbles holds strong opinions we cannot comprehend.

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The Daily Minute: 2.19.24
In which we are scheming and dreaming of fewer hats and no joy.

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Whoever you are, take your seat on the bus!

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