In Which the Busload of Books Tour Begins
by Matthew
August 30, 2022

After twelve years of dreaming and three years of planning and and more than a thousand generous contributors chipping in to make it possible, we’re hitting the road today with 25,000 books to give away and 25,000 miles to drive. (There’s a symmetry to it.)

We’ve purchased a bus and made it a home. We’ve built partnerships that deepen our impact and widen our reach. We’ve packed as well as we can, but what do we know about the road ahead? Not much. We’re mostly unprepared, and we know it.

But momentum is a powerful force. We’ve made a plan and aim to see it through.

Over the next twelve months we will:

  • Give presentations on creative empowerment at high-need elementary schools in every state
  • Distribute 150,000 books to students and educators from low-income communities (in partnership with First Book and Build-A-Bear Foundation)
  • Facilitate the first-ever, large-scale study on the impact of author visits (in partnership with Washington College)s
  • Offer video-based versions of our Tour presentations to any Title I educator
  • Bring friends and followers along on the ultimate virtual road trip
  • Ask the same three questions wherever we go (and share the answers with you)
  • Attempt to make a book(s) about our travels and discoveries
  • Camp in driveways, campgrounds, parking lots, and public land
  • Homeschool our kids (14,12,10, and 5)
  • Encounter an unfathomable number of bathrooms

This is what we plan to do, but what will actually happen? What will go spectacularly wrong? What will go unexpectedly right? What new friends will be meet? What lessons will we learn? What blind spots will we discover? Will we make a difference? What would that even look like?

So many questions. We could sit here asking them forever. It’s time to go find answers.

Please join us, friends. A new school year begins. A country awaits.

We’re packed. The tank is full. Whatever we’ve forgotten, we’ll collect along the way.

We’ll never be completely ready, so we might as well begin.

Here we go.

 

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Recently:

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!