The 2016 Susan Steinfirst Lecture took place at Durham County Library on Sunday, March 13. Matt de la Pena presented a lecture entitled “Reading (and Writing) from the Wrong Side of the Tracks.” In his speech, Matt spoke about growing up in the border town of National City and his experiences growing into a reader and writer. He also talked about needing to find characters that looked and talked like him, and how that inspired him to write diverse characters from all walks of life. Matt touched upon the idea of “code switching:” changing the way a person talks based on the people they are around. He discussed how he changed the way he talked depending on if he was with his father’s Mexican family, his mother’s white family, or his friends. He also explored the guilt first-generation college students often feel. It is difficult to feel as though you are moving beyond your family and your home, especially for something that is completely unknown. Matt noted that his next YA novel explores this experience. The lecture concluded with questions from the audience that ranged from asking about Matt’s experience raising a multiracial daughter to whether or not Matt still “code switched.”
A co-current storytime and program was provided in the children’s room for younger audience members. SILS student Mark Riddle and DCL librarian Olivia Singleton read “Last Stop on Market Street” aloud and then the children made their own buses like the two shown in this picture.