Critically acclaimed author Matt de la Peña made history on Monday, January 11, when he became the first Latino author to receive the prestigious John Newbery Medal for children’s literature. He received the medal for his book "Last Stop On Market Street," which was illustrated by Christian Robinson.
"Last Stop On Market Street" tells the story of a young African-American boy on a city bus with his grandmother. De La Peña tells NPR that the message is about feeling proud of one’s circumstances:
You can feel like you have been slighted if you are growing up without, if you have less money, or you can see the beauty in that. And I feel like the most important thing that’s ever happened to me is growing up without money. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of.
He also mentioned the importance of diversity in literature by saying, "I’ve been doing this for 10 years, writing diverse characters, and I just want to honor every Hispanic writer who’s come before me."
De La Peña is one of a number of authors and illustrators honored by the American Library Association Monday. Among those were the recipients of two Coretta Scott King Book Awards: Rita Williams-Garcia, author of "Gone Crazy in Alabama" and Bryan Collier, illustrator of "Trombone Shorty." You can see the full list of awardees and nominees here.
*Note: Article has been edited to reflect correct spelling of "Newbery."