The Problem of 1-to-300
by Matthew
February 28, 2022

Robbi here.

I’m currently working on updating our Busload of Books Tour website so it’s a more robust place that will help us tell the story of the trip.

For the record, Matthew and I are not literacy experts, we are not educators, we are not deeply informed on all things related to schools and literacy. We are just creators who have been fortunate enough to see the impact that our visits and books have on kids. In the process of putting together this trip, we’ve met so many people who have been fighting this fight for much longer and with such determination and fortitude, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to learn from them.
One of the more shocking factoids we have come across is that in low-income areas, the book to child ratio is 1:300. These are places where there are no accessible public libraries or bookstores and where schools do not have the funding to have in-school libraries.

We hear a lot from educators that books are “mirrors and windows and sliding glass doors.” How are kids to imagine themselves in different places, doing different things, if they don’t have access to those experiences themselves? Most kids from low-income areas do not have access to many different experiences. And the wonderfully simple answer to providing some version of that access is through books. And yet those same kids are barred access to books as well.

These were some of the things I was thinking about last night as I drew all these little circles in this illustration, thinking of the kids they are meant to represent. At once it seems like a problem that is impossible to solve yet one that has such a beautiful, simple solution. I am grateful to all the people we have met who are dedicating their lives to the solution.

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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: 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!