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:

Here’s what’s next. A mere 2,134 miles remain between Squamish and Anchorage. In any other year, this would be the adventure and not an addendum.

We have pasta and firewood, a pound of salami and two cases of Coke. Our water and gas tanks are full.

Robbi did this drive as a kid, crammed in the back of a pickup with her sister and brother. Back then the roads weren’t paved and she spent the whole trip eating dust. Our drive will be luxurious in comparison.

So long for now—or not, depending on the whims of the rural Canadian Internet.

Anchorage or bust.


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The Daily Minute: 6.4.23
In which Robbi’s back-up Coca Cola has a rather nice view.


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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!