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:

Almost home.


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Good night from Lake Compounce Campground, where the heat is lifted, the moon is up, and the dogs are wanting for us to come to bed, already.

We had a wonderful day with the students and teachers of Highland Elementary. Usually school visits are single-day affairs, but we get to go back to Highland tomorrow for another day of fun.

Sweet dreams, friends.


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The Daily Minute: 5.22.24
In which we hear a story created by the next generation of authors and illustrators at Highland Elementary.


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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!