Annual Luncheon 2014 with speaker Matt de la Peña.

Speaker Matt de la Peña was truly humbled by the room filled with people curious about his presentation. He told a story of an empty auditorium at Albany, NY in 2005 and thanked everyone for coming and making him feel like he had, “ made the big time.” “You don’t know how fantastic it feels to speak to a room filled with people,” he added, and from that point on, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. He was candid, heartfelt and funny, as he shared a connection to literacy that was simply a real-life example of what the Literacy Project is all about.  He referred to his talk as “Me, my Dad and Books.”

Matt’s award-winning young adult novels are recognized for telling the stories of real life, multi-cultural characters, de la Peña invited us into his real life story. Once a fearful reader in a society driven by a foreign language, de la Peña learned to read English, consumed himself privately within his new passion and blossomed in creative writing. His talk focused his childhood story that looked back on his mixed-race parents, difficulties in school in San Diego, his passion for basketball and his relationship with his father.

His story culminated in the effect that he had on his family, having become a published author.  His success inspired his middle-aged father to become a reader and a scholar and eventually an elementary school teacher. Matt wrapped up with advise for all of us- “When you give someone a book, a child or and adult, you are giving them a new path in their life.”

We have included a 30-minute recording of Matt’s presentation at this year’s luncheon. Its humor and connection to our mission make it worth a listen, even if you were there live at the Sebastian, it is wonderful to hear again. Please enjoy.