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On writing and road travel, one thing is sure: setting off from your doorstep is difficult, but once you’re making headway and eventually find yourself at your destination, you’ll find it’s all worth it.

Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr, the dynamic duo behind the Busload of Books campaign, took to the road on a literary pilgrimage with their four kids across the country– and they’ve stopped here at Provo City School District. With a mission to promote literacy by giving away 25,000 hardcover books to one Title I school in each state, they arrived at Franklin Elementary to share their writing techniques and inspire the next generation of authors and illustrators. To quote their website,

“The Busload of Books Tour is a yearlong project to promote literacy and raise awareness of the challenges facing our nation’s public schools.”

During their visit with Franklin students, the couple conversed about how their travels affected their book content; their family’s summer visits to fish the Alaskan seas became one story, while their experiences in National Parks and Grand Canyons sparked another. More pointedly, the two discussed what Swanson termed “that full-moon feeling,” drawing on the sublime ventures or minute-but-memorable moments and experiences that glisten in your memory long after it’s over. 

They spoke about the everyday joys of the supermarket, getting a full-moon feeling from the bright quilt-like quality of multicolored cans and supermarket supplies patched together on their aisles in a sublime, gratifying way, or how a steamer saucer of tomato soup warms you on a chilly day. 

After the couple shared their full-moon feelings, students had the opportunity to share their full-moon feelings, mentioning dogs, lakeside fishing outings with grandparents, family apartments, and more. Behr illustrated students’ full-moon feelings as they described them, ending their assembly with an illustrated tapestry of Franklin’s full-moon feelings and a message: you already have a story inside of you.

Students then stepped out of the gymnasium and followed Swanson and Behr back to their bus to snap pics in front of their travel bus and pet their dog before sending the couple on their way.

The message of authorship and illustrative career paths seemed a poignant story for students– although the world beyond your doorstep is fertile grounds for growth, your inner world is far richer. 

A huge thank you to Robbi and Matthew’s Busload of Books Tour for their generous donations and assembly, as well as their sponsors, First Book, Washington College, Kent Cultural Alliance, and Random House Children Books.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei