Meet Melinda Harris and Emily Prater
by Robbi
March 16, 2022

Meet dyslexia therapist Melinda Harris and media specialist Emily Prater.

They will be our hosts at Maynard Elementary School when the bus rolls through Maynard, Arkansas, in January 2023. Melinda and Emily took a few minutes to tell us about themselves, their school, and the students of Maynard.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Promoting the love of reading!

WHAT IS YOUR SCHOOL’S GREATEST CHALLENGE?
It’s difficult to raise literacy scores at the same time as trying to meet the needs of our student population from a low socio-economic background (we are 100% free-lunch status).

WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE BETTER UNDERSTOOD ABOUT THE CHALLENGES FACING TITLE I SCHOOLS?
The school provides a stable and safe environment for our students, who face many challenges both at home and school. We try, but, still, we can’t meet all their needs.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BOOK TOUR WILL BRING TO MAYNARD?
Most parents will not or cannot attend any after-school events, so having an author visit during the school day will mean so much to our students. Getting to take home their very own book to share with their siblings and parents will be very exciting, too. And meeting the author and illustrator of that book will be a once in a lifetime experience for most of them!

WHAT IS SOMETHING FUN OR QUIRKY ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL, STUDENTS, ETC?
Our students love the outdoors. Many of them are avid hunters and love to fish.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SCHOOL TRADITIONS?
We have Pioneer Days in September; a Fishing Derby in the spring. Kids also love a “Camo Day” in any Spirit or dress-up week, because almost every student owns at least a camouflage shirt. Some own a whole outfit — LOL.

We’re looking so much forward to meeting Melinda and Emily, who have generously arranged a place for us to park and hook up our bus for the night, a tour of Maynard’s historic cabin and old jail, a place for us to shower and do laundry, and a meal at a local restaurant!

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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:

Here’s what’s next. A mere 2,134 miles remain between Squamish and Anchorage. In any other year, this would be the adventure and not an addendum.

We have pasta and firewood, a pound of salami and two cases of Coke. Our water and gas tanks are full.

Robbi did this drive as a kid, crammed in the back of a pickup with her sister and brother. Back then the roads weren’t paved and she spent the whole trip eating dust. Our drive will be luxurious in comparison.

So long for now—or not, depending on the whims of the rural Canadian Internet.

Anchorage or bust.

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The Daily Minute: 6.4.23
In which Robbi’s back-up Coca Cola has a rather nice view.

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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!