Hailing from a working class border town in Southern California, Matt de la Peña (“Last Stop on Market Street,” “Mexican WhiteBoy,” “Milo Imagines the World”) grew up in an environment that deeply valued strength and stoicism and largely shunned big displays of emotion from men. Instilled with a strong work ethic and the pursuit of opportunities, he followed in the footsteps of the men in his family and community. But still, there was a deeper truth to life within a buried emotional side that he felt compelled to explore.
As early as high school, Matt would embrace this side of himself by secretly writing poetry, continuing on this journey to emotional self discovery throughout adulthood. Now, influenced by writers such as Kate DiCamillo and the late Cormac McCarthy, Matt’s books seek out the deeper and sometimes darker parts of life, teaching kids the invaluable skill of acknowledging melancholy and granting them the permission to appreciate their own emotional complexity.
In this episode, Matt shares his lifelong journey to accessing his own emotions and how his writing teaches kids to do the same. He is an explosion of thoughtfulness and depth.
For his reading challenge, Conversation Starters, Matt invites us to ponder alongside our youngest readers with his curated selection of picture books. He has curated a wonderful, diverse, and unexpected list that I invite you to check out. For Beanstack clients, use the challenge on your site!
Listen to the full episode, “Mixed Feelings: Matt de la Peña on Balancing Being Stoic and Sensitive” on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Like what you hear? Please leave a 5-star review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it!
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