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Family Embarks on a Nationwide Bus Tour to Gift Books to Children



Quick Smiles:

  • Author and illustrator duo Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr embarked on a year-long “Busload of Books Tour,” journeying across the United States in a converted school bus RV with their four children and dog to bring books to underserved children.
  • They have visited over 45 elementary schools and donated a hardcover book to each student, made possible through donations. By the end of the tour, they expect to have given away a total of 25,000 books.
  • The initiative has been well-received by communities, with Swanson and Behr providing engaging presentations on their book creation process and personalized pre-visit YouTube videos to build excitement among students.

Author and illustrator duo Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr set off on an extraordinary journey at the end of August.

Along with their four children, aged between 6 and 15, and their family dog, they set out from their Maryland home in a vibrant, converted school bus RV.

Their mission?

To bring literature to children who might not otherwise have easy access to books.

Their initiative, dubbed the “Busload of Books Tour”, has seen them visit more than 45 elementary schools to date.


At each stop, Swanson and Behr offer presentations on their creative process and donate a hardcover book to every student, all of which is made possible through generous donations.

The experience has been fulfilling beyond words for Behr, 47.

The joy they bring is palpable, and their Instagram followers (@robbi.and.matthew) have had the pleasure of following their journey.

The enthusiasm that greets them at each school is testament to the impact of their initiative.

Sara Snider, a librarian at McElwain Elementary in Denver, recalled the excitement that filled the school during their mid-April visit.

“They were so genuine and just so eager to connect with our kids. It was really, really great,” she shared with PEOPLE.


Swanson, 48, and Behr have co-authored numerous children’s books and expect to give away an impressive total of 25,000 books by the end of their tour.

The final stop is planned to be a small village in Alaska.

The donated books, either Everywhere, Wonder or Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom, are shipped to each school ahead of their visit.

In order to build excitement before their presentations, Swanson and Behr create a personalized video for each school, which they upload to YouTube for the teachers to share with their students.


Swanson humorously noted that the students are awestruck, thinking they’re famous because they’ve appeared on YouTube.

The duo takes immense satisfaction in bringing a spark of joy to communities that are often overlooked.

The visit from the “famous” authors fuels the students’ excitement and helps them understand the magic of literature and creativity.

The pair firmly believe in the power of inspiring children through literacy and creativity.