(Re)Introducing the Busload of Books Tour Research Team
by Matthew
May 5, 2022

I’ve said it before and will say it again and again:

One of the best things that’s happened since Robbi and I announced our plans for the Busload of Books Tour is partnering with the incredible Sara Clarke-De Reza to dream up a research study that will measure (for the first time at this scale) the impact of author/illustrator visits on elementary student attitudes about reading and creativity.

Sara has assembled a mighty team of colleagues from the departments of Education and Sociology at Washington College: Bridget A. Bunten, Nick Garcia, Michelle Johnson, and Erin Counihan—as well as two student research assistants, the excellent Avery and Riley.

Sara’s team is working with more than half of our Tour Schools to conduct three surveys (one before we visit, a second on the day of our visit, and a third one month later) to see how student (and educator) attitudes about reading, writing, storytelling, and self-image might have shifted as the result of our presentations and book giveaways.

The resulting data will provide an unprecedented glimpse into a question that has proved vexingly difficult to answer. We’re honored and excited to be part of this landmark study.

Sara and her colleagues will be on hand tomorrow/Friday night at the Garnet Elementary Community Resource Fair. Swing by between 5-7pm to paint the bus and then go say hi to these smart folks who are doing their part to make the world better.

Click here to learn more about the Busload of Books Tour research project.




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!