Our Partnership with First Book
by Matthew
October 26, 2021

Robbi and I will be the ones driving the bus and visiting the schools, but our tour would not be possible without the extraordinary people and organizations supporting our adventure.

Let’s start with First Book—a national nonprofit that has devoted the past three decades to providing free and low-cost books and other educational resources to under-resourced students and communities.

Each year, First Book programs and outreach help 5 million low-income children. To date, they have distributed more than 200 million books to students and teachers across the country.

Our friends at First Book are tapping their nationwide network of 500,000 Title I (and Title I-eligible) educators to help us identify schools where our assemblies and book giveaways will make the greatest impact.

A select group of First Book’s members has been invited to apply for a visit. From those applications, Robbi and I will choose (at least) one school in each state, hoping to come up with a list of 50 schools that includes a balance of sizes, demographics, and settings (rural, urban, suburban, etc.).

First Book is also coordinating with our publishers to source and secure the best possible prices for the books we’ll give away (so your donations can buy as many books as possible). They’ll also ship them to the schools we’ll visit.

(Not having to take on these logistics myself makes me so happy I could actually cry and probably will at some point.)

Mostly though, we’re excited to be partnering with First Book because our missions are so aligned—and because their work is such an inspiring proof of concept.

  • 87 percent of First Book members reported that students’ interest in reading increased after receiving books.
  • 79 percent of member teachers and librarians say that resources from First Book help them be the best educator they can be.

That’s the heart of what we aim to do—engage kids, promote reading, and provide a lift to hard-working educators.
We couldn’t have asked for better partners.

LEARN MORE ABOUT FIRST BOOK!
www.firstbook.org

And if you’re a Title I educator, it’s easy and FREE to join the First Book network. Visit the First Book Marketplace to sign up and explore exclusive discounts on new books, supplies, educational resources, and other essentials for your students.
www.fbmarketplace.org

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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!