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.




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: 6.18.24
In which Robbi reports from a rainforest near Anchorage.

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And they’re off!
Robbi and the kids (the dogs) left home early afternoon yesterday. They flew to Seattle last night and caught an overnight flight to Anchorage, where they landed just after midnight Alaska time. To kill time during their 12-hour layover, they’re going to rent a car and drive down the Turnagain Arm to Portage. It’s a gorgeous stretch of road along the water.
Later today, they’ll catch a flight to King Salmon, a small tundra town which is the jumping-off point for many sport fishing adventures—and the place where the fishermen in our district catch the bush planes that take them to their various fishing camps.  
The whole trip will take about 36 hours, at which point Robbi and the kids will land on the beach and be greeted by Robbi’s brother in a pickup truck. They’ll drive to our compound, take the plywood off the windows, head to the spring to get water, hook up the solar panel, and then start setting up our fishing lines.
It’s so much work to get started every year, but they’ll be up and running by the time I reach the tundra late next Monday evening. It’s possible I’ll jump off the plane and straight into my waders. Once the fishing starts, it waits for no one.
PS - This illustration is from our picture book Sunrise Summer, which tells the story of Alden’s first season as a member of the fishing crew. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into our lives in Alaska.

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The Daily Minute: 6.17.24
In which we tape up the coolers, and Robbi’s hair proves tundra-ready.

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The Daily Minute: 6.16.24
In which Robbi leaves for Alaska tomorrow and the dogs are running free.

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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!