Book tour bus stops at Whitmore Lake Elementary School

WHITMORE LAKE – Robbi and Matthew’s Busload of Books Tour makes just one stop in Michigan, and students at Whitmore Lake Elementary School this week were the beneficiaries of the couple’s nationwide campaign to promote literacy and reading.

Based on husband and wife duo, the tour is a year-long project to raise awareness of the challenges facing public schools across the country.

The Maryland family of Swanson, Behr, their children Alden, Kato, August, and Jasper, and their 2-year-old dog, Dumbles, travel across the United States in a renovated school bus and visit a State Title I school to share their books with the students and talk about them. On Tuesday, Matthew Swanson, who writes, Robbie Behr, the illustrator, and their four children shared books and spoke with students and staff.

“They’re on a mission to showcase creativity and collaboration and their goal is to donate 25,000 hardcover books to students and teachers across the country,” said the principal of Whitmore Lake Elementary School. , Heidi Roy-Borland.

Swanson said the couple researched Title I schools to support. Title I is a federal education program that supports low-income students. The funds are distributed to very poor schools, based on the number of students who qualify for a free or reduced price lunch.

Author Matthew Swanson and his wife, illustrator Robbi Behr, second from rear left, pose with a group of first graders from Whitmore Lake Elementary School in front of the 'bus full of books” from the couple who made their only stop in Michigan at this elementary school on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 en route across America.

In 2021, the Busload of Books Tour sent out a request for schools to become tour stops.

“It’s really exciting. It kind of surprised me when I got the award email. It’s a big deal. We’re trying to think, ‘How are we representing our state?’ But our community is very excited. We’re a small community, but a very close community, so events like this get a lot of positive attention,” Roy-Borland said.

On Tuesday, the family held two assemblies with students and staff and distributed their books to students.

Following the assemblies, some students were chosen to ask the family questions over lunch and fill out a document asking for their favorite meal, favorite activity, and how they would change the world if they were in charge.

All students at Whitmore Lake Elementary received a free book written by guest author Matthew Swanson and his wife, book illustrator Robbi Behr, on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 as part of the

A copy of the couple’s books “Everywhere, Wonder,” given to students in kindergarten through first grade, and “Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom,” given to students in grades two through sixth, were the subject of assemblies and copies were given.

Fifth-grade student Aaron Ray, who started reading “Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom” when he received it, said he really enjoyed it and was already in Chapter 3. He said his favorite part so far was learning about Yokoyama, a character, getting his fortune.

Whitmore Lake Elementary fifth-grade student Aaron Ray talks about meeting the author of “Everywhere, Wonder” after a reunion of the author and his illustrator wife Robbi Behr on Tuesday, October 4, 2022.

Shelly Lyon, a fourth-grade teacher, said that through First Books, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., the family has partnered with her, she has purchased discounted books from various authors, including Swanson and Behr.

“I was very excited when I heard they were coming. I had discovered their books, the ‘Cookie Chronicles’, last year, so I already had children reading their books last year, so it was very lucky and I loved them,” Lyon said.

She said her students were excited and as a fan of the books herself, it was almost like meeting celebrities. Lyon, who has been teaching for more than two decades, said she has always loved literature and was passionate about sharing her love with children.

Shelly Lyon, a teacher at Whitmore Lake Elementary, speaks Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, about her passion for reading that prompted her and others at school to bring in a team of authors and illustrators children's books on a nationwide tour.

Melanie Clawson, who is pursuing graduate studies toward a master’s degree in literacy, was thrilled to see students getting the reading boost.

“It’s really amazing. It shows our kids the opportunities to do all kinds of things,” Clawson said.

Author Matthew Swanson reads responses voiced by Whitmore Lake Elementary Kindergarten Arianna McGraw as he and his wife Robbi Behr asked students to answer several questions that spark creativity after a school assembly on Tuesday October 4, 2022.

Swanson said the duo have released more than 80 books, 15 of which were released through a publishing house. They have been writing together for ten years.

About Herbert L. Leonard

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