Dear Stuck-at-Home Student #2

Homebound Letter 2 – March 18, 2020


Dear Stuck-at-Home Student:


Hi, my name is Matt de la Peña, and I write books. Usually I’m out on the road, visiting schools. Or I’m working on a new book. But right now I’m staying at home with my family. You probably are, too. Since we’re all in the same boat, I’ve decided to write you some letters over the next couple weeks. They’re about things I’ve been thinking about lately. And trying to write about. And they’re about some of the books I’ve been reading with my own daughter, Luna, and what they make us think about. You can write me back if you want, with questions or comments. I’ve been getting a lot of letters, so I may not be able to respond personally, but I promise to read every one of them. And I’ll answer some of the questions I get in future letters.


My email is


Sound good? Good.


Okay, here’s the second one . . . .


Wow, this is actually working. I received incredible emails from so many of you. How cool is that? It’s as if you’re all just hanging around the house instead of going to school— Oh, wait. We ARE all stuck at home, aren’t we? But you know what’s cool? It sounds like a lot of us are still working hard, trying to make the best of it. And a lot of you are loving the fact that you get to spend so much time with your families. Even some teenagers seem to feel this way.


Samantha (Sam) from Klum TX said:

  • “I see dirt. Panic and fear. But I also see the Rainbow! Spending time with your family. I don’t usually like spending time with my family too much because of teenager reasons. But me and my family have had so much fun together. We watched movies, played games, and we have all just relaxed. My family has also been building a learning schedule so I can keep up with learning through all of this.”


My kids are only 5 and 1. Do you mean to tell me that they, too, are going to have “teenage reasons”? I loved Sam’s letter. And I’m thrilled that so many high school students wrote me.


Here’s part of another email that stood out.


Reese (age 7, almost 8) from St Paul, MN said:

  • “Now that I am home a lot more, I have more time and I don’t feel rushed. I just have time to play and notice things and wonder about things.”


I love that you’re taking time to notice and wonder about things, Reese. I think that might be the single most important trait of a good writer. You have to notice things. You have to wonder about them. Sometimes the wondering that starts in your head can even end up on paper. Here’s an interesting idea: the job of the writer is not to provide answers, it’s only to pose interesting questions. I was so relieved when I realized this. Personally, I don’t know a whole lot about anything. Not really. But I AM curious. About a lot of things. Maybe you are, too.


Oh, and I’ve even heard from some adults. Kids, did you know adults are having to process everything that’s going on, just like you? It’s true.


Larissa (we don’t do the ages of adults) from Woodbridge, CT, said:

  • “For me, I am allowing my dog Rafie to spend time watching the Canadian Geese at the high school where we take our walks. I am personally more of a duck person for many reasons, but the last few days I have had the time to let him watch the geese. It has become a favorite part of my day.”


Actually, that’s something I wanted to write about in this letter. It sounds like many of us are finding something valuable in slowing down. We’re all so busy these days, aren’t we? I’m always on deadline for a new book or hurrying through an airport or prepping to teach my college writing class. Young people are racing up and down freeways all weekend, playing club sports. Or they’re taking ballet after school. Or learning an instrument. Or learning a second and third language. Or getting extra tutoring so they can be the best student in class. And suddenly . . . things have slowed way down. Maybe you’re even bored. But is boredom really such a bad thing?


Here’s my question for you today. What if boredom is actually really important? Is that possible? If so, what do you plan to do with this newfound boredom?


Tomorrow I’ll give my own answer. And I’ll share some of what others say (remember to give your first name and the city you live in so I can give you a shout out).


Your friend,