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: www.busloadofbooks.com

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Recently:

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: 12.9.22
In which, having just arrived in Texas, we plan to spend the night in Jasper County.

#busloadofbooks
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Robbi got this text from Erica Bridwell (known to friends and colleagues as “B”), the first-grade teacher who hosted Jasper during Tuesday’s visit to North Pike Elementary School in Summit, Mississippi. We signed a copy of Everywhere, Wonder for B, and Robbi had written in the dedication to “keep fighting the good fight.”
 
It’s a difficult time to be a teacher, especially at a school with limited resources and especially when serving kids who bring additional challenges to school. Educators need a boost every bit as much as their students do.
 
We’re sharing this to show that the tour is also for them, and maybe even more so. 
 
“We miss y’all! It felt like a part of us left when y’all did. Y’all have NO IDEA the impact you’re making not only on kids, but adults too! I haven’t had the easiest school year so far. I have felt defeated, frustrated, and overwhelmed. My connection with my students has felt faint and really nonexistent… I’ve struggled to find ways to motivate them, encourage them more… then y’all come along and somehow it has put fire back into me. Your words have made me reflect since I read them… “keep fighting the good fight…” it was powerful. I had that “full moon feeling” that feeling of how much I love what I do. I thought of what it means to me and what those kids mean to me. I remembered why God chose me to do this. Your kind words lifted me up. So thank you. Thank y’all. What y’all are doing is amazing! Safe travels! I’ll be following!”
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The Daily Minute: 12.8.22
In which we bask in the sweet Louisiana night and brace ourselves for the enormity of Texas.

#busloadofbooks
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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!