Justice Sotomayor encourages kids to ‘Just Ask’ in new book

Greg Nash

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor encourages kids to “just ask” if they see someone different from themselves in her new children’s book.

Sotomayor said the inspiration came from an experience she had approximately 30 years ago. The justice, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 7, was in the bathroom of a restaurant in New York giving herself an insulin shot. A woman came into the bathroom, and Sotomayor later heard her say that “she’s a drug addict” as she was leaving the restaurant, The Associated Press reported.

Sotomayor reportedly confronted the woman and explained that the shot was medicine.

{mosads} “If you don’t know something, ask, don’t assume,” Sotomayor said, the AP reported.

So Sotomayor’s latest children’s book “Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You,” which was released Tuesday, introduces children to what the justice called “life challenges.”

It features children working together to create a garden full of flowers and plants as they introduce their own challenges, like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, blindness and Down syndrome, the AP reported. 

“Differences provide not just beauty in life, but they’re important to the quality of the world we live in. It’s richer because of our differences. We’re not lesser because of it. We’re stronger because of it. My book celebrates the many ways in which kids and adults are different and do things differently,” Sotomayor told the AP before the book’s publication.

Sotomayor said she has wanted to write the book “forever,” and was motivated by friends who have children with chronic conditions. She said one friend’s child has to eat separately from all of the other students at school because he has allergies. Another friend’s child has Tourette’s syndrome. 

“Those experiences struck me as a reason for me to go ahead with the book that had been in my head,” Sotomayor said, the AP reported. 

Sotomayor said one child told her she was setting up a study area in her room and would not let her own “personal challenges” stop her after learning that Sotomayor has diabetes. She said the book’s culturally and ethnically diverse characters will allow all readers to see themselves or someone they know, and it will remind them that “life challenges are not limited to one kind of people.”

The book is illustrated Rafael López, who has dyslexia, and his son has high-functioning autism, the AP reported.

“I truly believe that if I can inspire the younger generation to see themselves as positive agents for change … that I will leave a more lasting legacy than what I can do as a judge,” Sotomayor told the AP.

Tags Children's books Sonia Sotomayor
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