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.



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:

At BWI, waiting to board the first of four flights. The mail has been held. The coolers are packed. I’m ready for another summer in Alaska.

Looking forward to smelling the tundra, drinking from the spring, looking for agates, picking fish, baking cakes, and seeing the Bristol Bay sunrise.

But mostly looking forward to seeing my crew. Apparently, the fishing is already underway. When I finally get to Coffee Point, I’ll hop out of the bush plane and into my waders.

So long for now. Will be back before you know it with more photos and stories to share.

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The Daily Minute: 6.23.24
As Matthew packs for Alaska, he needs your help deciding between protein and joy.

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The Daily Minute: 6.22.24
In which garlic is needed, Goji is cold, and we are grateful to the librarians and students of Japan.

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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!