“Busload of Books” tour makes lone stop in Arkansas

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 1:53 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2023 at 6:41 PM CST
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MAYNARD, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s not every day that a book tour across the nation stops in a town in the Natural State.

Maynard Elementary School is one of just 53 schools in the entire United States to be part of the “Busload of Books” program.

Author Matthew Swanson and illustrator Robbi Behr are giving away 25,000 free books to students while traveling the country in a converted school bus.

Over the course of the 2022-23 school year, they will visit at least one school in every U.S. state as part of their tour. They only selected Title 1 schools to serve students that are often overlooked.

“We’re having an amazing time, meeting teachers who are working so hard with limited resources that go above and beyond the classroom,” Swanson said.

According to Melinda Harris, the dyslexia therapist for Maynard Public Schools, when she heard about the opportunity, she knew she had to jump on it.

“I entered an essay contest, and we won! We’ve been so excited,” she said. “It means so much to the kids to get a book and meet the author and illustrator. And it means a lot to the teachers, too. I’m so glad we got selected.”

Once at the school, Swanson and Behr demonstrated how their jobs work, got a handful of hugs, and ensured no student was left empty-handed.

According to age, students received a copy of either “Everywhere, Wonder” or “Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom,” both written and illustrated by the duo.

Swanson and Behr said they couldn’t be more excited about bringing the tour to students across the country.

It may be just a book to some, but for a handful of students, the gesture means the world.