Dear Stuck-at-Home Student #4

Homebound Letter 4 – March 23, 2020


Dear Stuck-at-Home Student:


Before I begin, I have some exciting news. This Wednesday illustrator Loren Long and I are going to do a special Instagram Live session about our book LOVE. I will read the book, and Loren will talk about the art. Then we are going to have a conversation about how to make sense of the book today, considering everything that’s going on in our world. At the end we will answer as many of your questions as possible. I’m really excited about this, and I really hope you will join us.


My Instagram is @mattdelapena



A quick intro for those of you who are new to these letters. 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 won’t be able to respond personally, but I promise to read every one of them. And I’ll share some of your responses in future letters.


My email is


(Oh, if you’ve missed any of the previous letters, I’ve collected them all on my website.)


Well, it’s Monday. And that means back to school. Sort of. How’s your teacher adjusting to this new situation? For some of you (like my daughter) your teacher is now your mom and dad. Or a grandparent. Or some other caretaker. For others, you still have the same teacher, except now you only see that person on a computer screen. (And I bet he or she is wearing slippers while they teach. You should ask!)


But I learned something important over the weekend. If you think about it, your whole community is now your teacher. Here’s what I mean. . . .


On Friday I had a question about how to best teach writing to my daughter, so I put the question out there on social media, and guess what. Over a hundred teachers, from all over the country, responded with amazing, detailed advice. How cool is that? I now feel so much more confident teaching writing to my almost-six-year old. In fact I can’t wait to dig back in this afternoon.


I think we should take a quick second to applaud all the hard-working teachers out there who, in addition to figuring out how to transition their entire curriculum to the computer, are willing to help parents like me be better teachers, too.


Speaking of your teacher, what do you miss most about him or her? What do you miss most about your school? As you probably know, there’s so much more to school than just schoolwork. Describe what you miss most. I’ll start. . . .


A few weeks ago I visited a really great school in Walnut Creek, CA. I got to meet so many great students and teachers, but do you know what I loved most? One of my talks was in an auditorium across the hall from the gym, and when our session was over, I wandered onto the court where a dozen or so sixth and seventh graders were shooting around. I picked up a ball and started shooting alongside them. And after I made one particular shot, from behind the three-point line, one of the kids said, “Nice shot, Mister.” I liked that. Earlier he had been in one of my talks. But now we were just shooting hoops.


Later that day I had lunch with some eighth graders, mostly girls, and I listened to them talk what high school they’d be going to in the fall. How they were nervous and excited at the same time. But mostly nervous. And how they wondered if they’d be able to live up to their parents’ expectations. I loved just sitting there, listening to them.


And during my last presentation, after school, I read a brand new picture book to all the teachers at the school. It always makes me nervous to read something new, something that isn’t even out yet. But a few days later one of the teachers took the time to email me. She wanted me to know she really liked the book. And that meant so much to me.


I miss all of those things. The simple interactions I have with real people. Sometimes about books. Sometimes about basketball. Or high school. Or expectations. Man, I really miss those things.


Okay, your turn. What do you miss about school?


Your friend,

Matt de la Peña