Author & Text

Author Matt de la Peña was born today.

February 09
Calendar Activity Type
Author & Text

Event Description

Matt de la Peña is known for his young adult novels such as Ball Don't Lie and We Were Here that depict teens whose lives are shaped by the stresses of poverty and neglect.  He also collaborated on A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, a book for younger readers illustrated by Kadir Nelson. "Last Stop on Market Street," written by Matt de la Peña, is the 2016 Newbery Medal winner.

Classroom Activity

Share with students de la Peña’s essay Sometimes The 'Tough Teen' Is Quietly Writing Stories.  Have students read and discuss the essay in groups, focusing on questions such as

  • What attitudes toward literacy (reading and writing) does de la Peña convey?
  • What stories does he tell to get these points across?
  • How does he craft or structure the stories to make them both interesting and effective in communicating the points?

Then invite students to write a literacy narrative of their own, selecting a few key stories to shape into an essay that conveys a point they wish to make about reading and/or writing in their own lives.


Matt de la Peña’s official site offers biographical information and news about his books and upcoming projects.

In this video interview hosted by the Library of Congress, de la Peña discusses his efforts to represent aspects of the Mexican-American experience to readers.

This article from The New York Times reports on the removal of de la Peña’s books from classrooms in Tucson schools.

Covering some of the same material as the essay in the classroom activity, this interview also addresses his then-newest title, The Living.

Related Resources