In Which We Spend the Whole Day Painting With Friends, Old and New
by Matthew
May 7, 2022

Yesterday might have been my favorite day yet in the Busload of Books Tour project so far.

We spent the morning at Garnet Elementary, working on the bus mural with students and teachers.

Every single fourth and fifth grader got a chance to choose a color and find a spot to paint.

But the rain was not our friend, so we focused on the stretch of bus beneath the awning.

The kids did a fabulous job. They were so patient and careful and excited to contribute to the mural.

We came back in the evening, to be part of Garnet’s Community Resource Fair. We’d anticipated standing all alone in the rain. But the skies cleared, and people showed up in droves.

Suddenly, dozens of friends were painting every inch of the bus, the fantastical literary landscape exploding with unexpected color.

In addition to painting, folks peeked inside the bus to see Brian Thompson’s progress on our soon-to-be tiny home.

The Resource Fair was, by all accounts a huge success. The Busload of Books Tour research team from Washington College was on hand, answering questions about the project—along with 25 community organizations.

Kudos to Garnet’s Community School Coordinator Flo Terrill for organizing an excellent event.

Robbi and I had such a great time, and felt so proud to be part of this incredible community.

Thanks for everyone who came out to help us paint the bus.

Wherever we go next year, it means the world to know we’re building on a foundation made right here at home.



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:

At BWI, waiting to board the first of four flights. The mail has been held. The coolers are packed. I’m ready for another summer in Alaska.

Looking forward to smelling the tundra, drinking from the spring, looking for agates, picking fish, baking cakes, and seeing the Bristol Bay sunrise.

But mostly looking forward to seeing my crew. Apparently, the fishing is already underway. When I finally get to Coffee Point, I’ll hop out of the bush plane and into my waders.

So long for now. Will be back before you know it with more photos and stories to share.

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The Daily Minute: 6.23.24
As Matthew packs for Alaska, he needs your help deciding between protein and joy.

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The Daily Minute: 6.22.24
In which garlic is needed, Goji is cold, and we are grateful to the librarians and students of Japan.

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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!