One Country: Three Questions
by Matthew
August 7, 2022

Friends, perhaps you can help us with something.

One of the great opportunities our family will have on the Busload of Books Tour is talking to people all over the country—getting to know them and picking their brains if we care to.

We purposefully selected schools that represent a wide range of sizes, locations, and demographics—from a 900-student school in Wilmington, Delaware to a 7-student school in Port Heiden, Alaska.

Which means we’ll be spending time in a wide range of communities.

I’m guessing Robbi and I aren’t the only ones discouraged by the prevailing narrative of division and discord. It’s a complicated moment to know what it means to be an American (of the USA variety).

But we have a suspicion (or maybe it’s just hope?) that perhaps we’re not quite as divided as it seems—or at least not quite as hopelessly different as we think we are.

To test the theory, we plan to ask the same three questions to everyone we encounter—from the students in the schools we visit to the people we meet on the street to the friends whose driveways we crash in.

Our hope is to get a glimpse into the heart of the American identity and ethos—in order to discover what (if anything) unites us as a nation. Fingers crossed we’ll find it.

But what questions should we ask? Here’s the start of a list, but we’d like to hear from you. What would you ask if given the chance? How do we get to the heart of the matter?

  • What is America?
  • What does it mean to be American?
  • What one thing do all Americans have in common?
  • What’s the most American thing you do?
  • What is the best thing about America?

Just getting the ball rolling here. We turn to you for more (and better) ideas.

We’re so much smarter together.


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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!