Meet Lauren Castaldo of Cape View Elementary in Cape Canaveral, Florida
by Matthew
April 4, 2022

In early December of 2022, we’ll be visiting the Rockets of Cape View Elementary in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Our host is the wonderful Lauren Castaldo, a media specialist of 16 years, and a dedicated champion of literacy. She took a few minutes to tell us about her students, her community, and the challenges faced by Title I schools.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I get to see ALL the students each week and help foster their love of learning! The media center is where students come to find their passion! I LOVE watching a student get so excited about a book it makes the whole class want to read it.

WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE BETTER UNDERSTOOD ABOUT THE CHALLENGES FACING TITLE I SCHOOLS?
We end up being so much more than just teachers. 100% of our students this year receive free or reduced-cost lunch. We spend our own money to buy clothes, shoes, food, books etc. for students and families who need them, because they are part of our community. We are our students’ cheerleaders because Mom or Dad couldn’t make the soccer game, we are the mental health counselor when they witness violence in the neighborhoods. We bring in the extra snacks for all so no one is singled out. Systemic poverty is a nationwide problem in schools. There are no easy answers or solutions.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP PRIORITIES IF YOUR SCHOOL HAD MORE FUNDING?
My answer and my school’s answer may be different, but I would love to bring my school library into this century with new furniture built for collaboration, and make a massive investment into new library-bound books.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BOOK TOUR WILL BRING TO CAPE VIEW?
Books pour into Title 1 schools but they are usually used, old, and nothing the students want to read. If a book sits on a shelf, it’s not much good at growing a child’s brain, confidence, and reading ability. I CAN’T WAIT to give each student a just-right forever book for them. It’s an honor and blessing to be hosting Robbi, Matthew, and their children at our school and welcome them into the ROCKET family!

We can’t wait to meet Lauren and the entire Rocket family! The honor will be all ours.

To learn more about the Busload of Books Tour, go to www.busloadofbooks.com

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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: 6.18.24
In which Robbi takes an early-morning drive along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.
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The Daily Minute: 6.18.24
In which Robbi reports from a rainforest near Anchorage.
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And they’re off!
 
Robbi and the kids (the dogs) left home early afternoon yesterday. They flew to Seattle last night and caught an overnight flight to Anchorage, where they landed just after midnight Alaska time. To kill time during their 12-hour layover, they’re going to rent a car and drive down the Turnagain Arm to Portage. It’s a gorgeous stretch of road along the water.
 
Later today, they’ll catch a flight to King Salmon, a small tundra town which is the jumping-off point for many sport fishing adventures—and the place where the fishermen in our district catch the bush planes that take them to their various fishing camps.  
 
The whole trip will take about 36 hours, at which point Robbi and the kids will land on the beach and be greeted by Robbi’s brother in a pickup truck. They’ll drive to our compound, take the plywood off the windows, head to the spring to get water, hook up the solar panel, and then start setting up our fishing lines.
 
It’s so much work to get started every year, but they’ll be up and running by the time I reach the tundra late next Monday evening. It’s possible I’ll jump off the plane and straight into my waders. Once the fishing starts, it waits for no one.
 
PS - This illustration is from our picture book Sunrise Summer, which tells the story of Alden’s first season as a member of the fishing crew. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into our lives in Alaska.
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The Daily Minute: 6.17.24
In which we tape up the coolers, and Robbi’s hair proves tundra-ready.
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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!