Title: A biography is the true story of a person’s life. In Sonia Sotomayor: a judge grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter, the reader learns about the early life of one of our current Supreme Court Justices. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. There are nine Supreme Court Justices. This biography tells how young Sonia was determined to learn and willing to work hard. Her hard work resulted in her being the third female justice in U.S. Supreme Court history; the first Hispanic person to be appointed to the federal bench in New York; and the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice. Sonia Sotomayor’s biography is appropriately written in both English and Spanish so that more young children can be inspired by her story.
Idea #1: In this book, when Justice Sotomayor was a child, she is described as brave, hard-working, determined with a will to learn. It is clear why a hard-working, determined person who is willing to learn should be successful in life. After reading the story of her early life, why do you think the author also included the fact that she was brave? Be prepared to share your answer. Can you think of a time when you were brave in the same way Sonia Sotomayor was when she was young?
Idea #2: This book tells us that Sonia loved the world her mother gave her. Her mother and father were from Puerto Rico, and Sonia grew up surrounded by the tastes and sounds of Puerto Rican culture. Her favorite food was Spanish rice and beans and she loved merengue music. Think about the foods, traditions and celebrations that you share with your family. What is your favorite food that you share with your family? Or…your favorite music that captures the culture of your family? Or…your favorite tradition that your family might share with other members of your family or with your community?
Idea #3: Sonia Sotomayor’s favorite books were the Nancy Drew mystery novels. Nancy Drew was a girl detective who was always on the go, solving crimes… Is there a character in a story or book that you have read that you might want to be? Be prepared to tell your classmates who you would like to be and why.
Idea #4: When Sonia Sotomayor first went to Princeton University – one of the top schools in the country – she felt like she was too different than all the other students. She came from such a different background. She was Hispanic, she grew up in the projects, and she looked different from most of the other students. What did Sonia Sotomayor do to break barriers and make herself feel more a part of the Princeton University community? What other ideas might you suggest to help her feel more comfortable at Princeton University?
Idea #5: The U.S. is the third largest country in the world. There are 315 million people who live in our country. Our country has a very rich and diverse population. It is sometimes described as a “melting pot” in which different cultures have contributed their own distinct “flavors” to American culture. On the other hand, it is sometimes described as a salad bowl, a country in which people retain their language and their cultures. Think of a stew in which all of the flavors come together to make one dish. Then think of a salad in which each flavor stands on its own to make a dish. Which idea do you think better describes the community in which you live? Is it more like a salad bowl or a melting pot of stew? Discuss your answer with your classmates.