In Which Generosity Abounds and Robbi Plans a Return to Her Roots
by Matthew
April 6, 2022

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be doing an author/illustrator visit and all-school, hardcover book giveaway at Chestertown’s own HH Garnet Elementary School on April 29th!

Garnet was Robbi’s elementary school—and it’s the school Alden and Kato attended, Augie currently attends, and Jasper will attend one day. It’s a warm and welcoming community with devoted and incredibly hard-working teachers and administrators. We’re so grateful for everything they do to create the best possible learning environment in spite of significant and ongoing budget shortfalls.

A Title I school with 88 percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, Garnet shares many of the joys and challenges of the 52 schools we’ll be visiting on the Busload of Books Tour—which is why we’re thinking of this event as an unofficial Tour kick-off. In addition to giving two assemblies and meeting with a small group of students interested in writing and drawing, we’ll be doing a second pilot study with the research team at Washington College.

The book giveaway has been made possible by a generous donation from the Friends of the Kent County Public Library, who are funding free hardcover copies of Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom for Garnet’s 2-5th grade students and teachers. The pre-K-1st grade kids will be getting copies of either Babies Ruin Everything or Sunrise Summer—purchased with funding from the Kent Judy Center at Garnet Elementary (a resource devoted to comprehensive, community-based early learning programs for pre-school children and families).

Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make this event a reality, especially Principal Rose and the wonderful Flo Terrill, Garnet’s Community School Coordinator, who will be our hosts on April 29. Stay tuned for another post with Flo’s thoughts on her work and the Garnet community.

(And a grateful shout out to first-grade teacher extraordinaire Rachel Cording Hopkins who lovingly introduced Alden, Kato, and August to the joys of elementary school.)


April 29 is circled on our calendar. We can’t wait to spend the day with Flo and the rest of the Garnet Elementary community.


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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.


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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.


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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!