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.

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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.

#busloadofbooks
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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.

#busloadofbooks
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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!