The Books We’ll Be Giving Away
by Matthew
November 12, 2021

In case you’ve been wondering about the books we’ll give away on the tour:

The pre-K-1st graders will be getting Everywhere, Wonder, our picture book about observation and storytelling.

As the book begins, a boy imagines the world’s grand and distant wonders (the pyramids of Egypt and the jungles of Brazil), but halfway through he starts to notice the beautiful and interesting things in his own neighborhood (ants on the sidewalk and a bottle floating on a stream). The point is that every day—and every life—is full of things worth noticing and sharing with others.The 2nd-5th graders will get Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom, the first book of the Cookie Chronicles, in which literal-minded Ben Yokoyama gets the fortune “Live each day as if it were your last,” and launches into a frantic quest to complete his life goals before sundown.

In the related assembly, we talk about the power and perplexity of figurative language and use popular proverbs to build a case for the importance of telling stories.

In both assemblies, we explain how we made the books, how they emerged from our own lives, and that the point of making art is to connect with others by sharing experience.

We joke around and tease each other, trying to make clear we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re open about the many failures that preceded our success. The point is to demystify creativity and authorship so that when we hand the kids their free book at the end of the assembly, it becomes a relatable object. Which makes them more likely to read it.

And more likely to tell their own stories and create their own art. Because they’ve seen that it’s something that anyone can just decide to do. That there’s nothing mystical or forbidden about it. That they can start whenever they want to.

We always get notes from teachers and librarians after our visits: the kids read their books and then start writing stories, making comics, and creating fan art of the books we give away.

We know this doesn’t happen for every kid, but we know it happens for some. And we know those sparks can lead to flames.

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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!