Women’s History Month – Mar. 1 – 31, 2019
Turning Pages: My Life Story
Sonia Sotomayor, Author
Lulu Delacre, Illustrator
Philomel Books, Nonfiction, Sep. 4, 2018
Suitable for Ages: 4-12
Themes: Sonia Sotomayor, Hispanic-American judges, Supreme Court, Autobiography, Pursuing Dreams
Opening: My story is a story about books — of poems and comics, of law and mystery of science and science fiction — written both in Spanish and in English.
Sonia Sotomayor has inspired young people around the world to reach for their dreams. But what inspired her? For young Sonia, the answer was books! They were her mirrors, her maps, her friends, and her teachers.
Her first memory of how words mesmerized her came from her Abuelita (grandmother), who recited poems written long ago about the tropical island home her family left behind. When Sonia was diagnosed with diabetes at seven and had to give herself shots, she found comic books with super heroes her best medicine. Books became her “loyal friends.” They helped her to connect with her family in New York and in Puerto Rico,
When her father died, Sonia was nine. She found refuge in a neighborhood library. A neighbor surprised her with a complete set of encyclopedias that added to the home library. She also became a big Nancy Drew fan and decided that she could figure out mysteries too. Books took her all over the world and to the moon. They taught her right from wrong. She learned about inequality. And she began to dream of a future for herself where anything was possible.
What I like about this book:
Turning Pages is an inspiring book that will leave readers hopeful and excited about their own dreams. The written word is important to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, which is reflected in her lyrical and rhythmic text. She writes with love, enthusiasm and candor. I am thrilled to see such a deeply personal book for young people. But I believe fifth – seventh grade students would benefit. She is an important role model for youth.
This is the first time Sotomayor shares her own personal story with young readers. It is a down-to-earth story about the magical power of reading and how it shapes periods of her life. In her words: “Books were the magic potions that could fuel me with the bravery of superheroes / little boats that helped me to escape sadness at home / my snorkel and flippers, helping me get there / my time machine, inspiring me to imagine what I would be when I grew up / my launchpad, blasting me straight into my dreams / lenses, bringing into focus truths about the world around me / mirrors of my very own universe.”
Sotomayor was born in the Bronx with humble beginnings. Her family was from Puerto Rico and she spoke Spanish at home. Children of immigrants will relate to her struggle to learn English, balance two languages and learn to fit in with others. It was her love of books that helped her make sense of her life and her world.
Lulu Delacre’s beautiful and vibrant illustrations perfectly echoes the rich textures of Sotomayor’s life.
Resources: This book is a treasure and would be a great read-aloud for classroom discussions about women in power, the Supreme Court or government service. There is a Timeline of Justice Sotomayor’s life and a lot of photographs on the front and back endpapers.
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