Hello Wonderful Title I Educators!

Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr here—author/illustrator, husband/wife creators of picture books and illustrated middle grade novels.

We’re spending the 2022-2023 school year traveling the country in our tiny home school bus, visiting Title I schools in all 50 states on the Busload of Books Tour.

We wish we could visit your school in person, and perhaps we will someday, but for now we’re offering the next-best thing—FREE ACCESS (for Title I educators) to videos of our Tour presentations, drawing demos, and supporting educational materials for all elementary ages.

The presentations are funny, high-energy, and supported by more than 100 illustrations, photos, and animations. We hope they might bring a bit of fun, laughter, and creative spark to your classrooms and community.

(or read on to learn more about our presentations)

(click HERE if you have already received your access password but have lost track of the link)

Presentation for Pre-K – 1st Grade

That Full Moon Feeling

Finding the Wonder and Telling Your Story

Using our picture book Everywhere, Wonder as a guide, we describe the process of working together to write and illustrate a picture book—emphasizing themes of observation, discovery, storytelling, and creative empowerment.

Supporting materials prompt students to create and share their own stories—and a drawing demo teaches them how to draw a bear!

Presentation for 2nd – 6th Grade

Bulldozers in the Fog

The Power of Creative Expression

With our middle grade series Cookie Chronicles as a backdrop, we describe our creative process and the wonderful weirdness of language—using proverbs as a framework for sharing empowering ideas and encouraging creative exploration.

Supporting activities challenge students to match proverbs with their meanings—and a drawing demo teaches them how to draw Dumbles the Dog!

To access this free content, fill out the form below, and confirm you work for a Title I-eligible school. Once you submit the form, you’ll receive an email with a password and a URL that will lead you to the content!

Note: These materials are for Title I educators only to share within their Title I communities. Like most creators, we can’t usually offer free access to our presentations, as school visits provide an essential source of income while giving students an invaluable opportunity to interact with us in person. But we’re aware that many schools – including most receiving Title I funding – are unable to afford author visits. For that reason, we’re extending the benefits of the Tour to more schools by providing this free content for Title I educators to share with their classrooms and communities. All others should click HERE to learn more about paid in-person or virtual visits or workshops.

The Ultimate Virtual Field Trip

We invite you to join us for a virtual tour of America’s unsung wonders and off-the-beaten-path communities. At every step, we’ll be documenting our travels via daily photos, essays, sketches, and videos. Check out our route!

 

To join the adventure, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or the tour blog.

Busload of Books Research Project

We’re partnering with the departments of education and sociology at Washington College to conduct the first-ever, large-scale study of how author/illustrator visits impact attitudes about literacy and creativity among elementary school students. The resulting data will fill a critical gap in the research on this topic—and could provide powerful tools for school administrators and teachers trying to secure funding and priority for literacy programming.

We’re partnering with a national nonprofit, a leading liberal arts college, a beloved local arts organization, and our generous publisher.

FIRST BOOK

helped us identify the schools we’ll visit—and is working with our publishers to get our books to students and teachers.

WASHINGTON COLLEGE

is using our tour to conduct a major study that will fill a critical gap in the research on the impact of author/illustrator visits.

KENT CULTURAL ALLIANCE

is filling our bus with hometown pride and accepting tax-deductible donations on our behalf.

RANDOM HOUSE

is helping with publicity and making a major donation of books.

FIRST BOOK

helped us identify the schools we’ll visit—and is working with our publishers to get our books to students and teachers.

WASHINGTON COLLEGE

is using our tour to conduct a major study that will fill a critical gap in the research on the impact of author/illustrator visits.

KENT CULTURAL ALLIANCE

is filling our bus with hometown pride and accepting tax-deductible donations on our behalf.

RANDOM HOUSE

is helping with publicity and making a major donation of books.

Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr are the author and illustrator of the Cookie Chronicles series, The Real McCoys trilogy, and the picture books Sunrise Summer, Babies Ruin Everything, and Everywhere, Wonder. When not advocating for local schools, giving talks on creativity, or commercial salmon fishing in Alaska, they live in the hayloft of an old barn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Read more about us
in the Washington Post!

MATTHEW

Author, Dad,
Tundra Nanny

ROBBI

Illustrator, Mom,
Fisherwoman

ALDEN (13)

Actor, Artist, Entrepreneur

KATO (12)

Athlete, Gamer,
Engineer

AUGUST (10)

All-star Hugger,
Magical Being

JASPER (5)

Shouter, Jester,
Autocrat

DUMBLES (1)

Snuffler, Mooch,
Grumpy Old Man

PRINT MEDIA

WASHINGTON POST 2019

An in-depth profile of our journey from independent publishers to commercial children’s book creators. Click here to read.

WASHINGTON POST 2021

The wonderful Mary Quattlebaum writes about the launch of The Cookie of Perfection and the Busload of Books Tour here.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

The official book-world announcement of the Busload of Books Tour is here.

WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS

A conversation about how illustration can be a form of authorship—and a tool for increasing representation in kid lit. Click here to read.

RELUCTANT READER BOOKS

Our favorite-ever review of The Cookie Chronicles—and why these books are a good match for readers trying to find their footing. Read it here.

FAMILY CIRCLE

The Modern Life column profiled our family and the “joys and challenges of raising kids while working from home” here.

NEW YORK TIMES

An interview with the ArtsBeats blog about our indie press Idiots’Books. Read it here

NEW YORK MAGAZINE

Classified our self-published work in the “Brilliant and Lowbrow” quadrant of their Approval Matrix. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Check it out here.

SELECT PODCASTS

HELLO MONDAY

We join LinkedIn’s Jessi Hempel for a conversation about leaving our day jobs to make books and kids. Listen here.

END BOOK DESERTS

We talk with teacher, scholar, author, and literacy advocate Molly Ness about the Busload of Books Tour here.

THE AUTONOMOUS CREATIVE PODCAST

Our conversation with comic artist Jessica Abel about risk, reward, and making your own luck can be found here.

THE AUTONOMOUS CREATIVE - with video!

Our conversation with comic artist Jessica Abel about risk, reward, and making your own luck. The crowdcast can be found here.

The latest on Instagram:

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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Hello, Friends! Isabel here. We’re rounding out the week in a state I’m pretty familiar with: the Bayou State, the Creole State, the Boot.

You might know it as a swampy place, the site of the country's largest gator population. I know it as a place I grew up: Louisiana! 

The world alligator, by the by, comes from the Spanish el lagarto, or: the lizard. The BIG lizard… they grow up to 12 feet long.

Although the state song is “You Are My Sunshine,” Louisiana's famed for its hurricanes. Not so many people know about the tricks of LA's grittiest survivors: oak trees. Full-grown live oaks can drink up more than 20,000 gallons of stormwater a year!

Floods especially affect New Orleans, which has LA's lowest elevation. 8 feet below sea level! 

That doesn’t stop residents from living the city’s motto: laissez les bons temps rouler. “Let the good times roll!” 

The city spent time under Spanish and French rule before being sold to the US. In 1803, LA’s territory encompassed what is now 13 separate states; the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the US.

If you've only heard of one thing in New Orleans, it’s probably Mardi Gras. Every year, parades roll through the streets. Riders on papier-mâché floats throw beads, and marching bands perform in between. 

This leans on another New Orleans tradition. Jazz! Born when improv, emotion, and brass clashed like cymbals in the hands of extraordinary artists like “Jelly-Roll” Morton and Louis Armstrong.

This wouldn’t have been possible without NOLA's incredible diversity. From the Native Americans who first lived here, to the historical African, Caribbean, and European influences, NOLA's a melting pot.

LA's food wouldn’t be the same without its Haitian Creole and Cajun influences. If you’ve seen The Princess and the Frog, you’ve heard of my personal favorite — gumbo, a delicious stew. And frog legs! Rayne, LA, is the center of the frog industry and even has an annual Frog Festival.

You know, NOLA’s connected to the rest of the state by the Causeway, the world's longest bridge over water. Some say you can even see the curvature of the Earth while driving it. Robbi and Matthew — let us know if you check it out!
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Dumbles loves his new toy. Thanks Beckie Nieman and all our friends at North Pike Elementary School for including even our ridiculous dog in your generous hospitality.

#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!