Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor's New Children's Book Pays Homage To Her Mom

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a black top and a white suit
Paul Marotta / Contributor/Getty

The book is all about how people can help every single day

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a children’s book, her fourth, to honor her mom, Celina Báez, who died last year. The book is based on her dedication to helping others and the importance of public service.

Sotomayor’s book, titled: “Just Help! How to Build a Better World” features her as a child with her mom (Mami), asking her, “How will you help today?” every night before she goes to bed to show how little actions you do can make a big impact on society.

“People think about civic participation as just limited to being an elected official … or maybe the people who go into the military,” Sotomayor said in an interview with TODAY. “Kids, and many adults, don’t realize that public service is not just those big acts of getting elected and making changes that way. But it’s the little things each of us do every day to improve our communities.”

Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and is a strong liberal presence on the court. Just last week, she wrote a dissent about Texas’ restrictive abortion law, calling it a “disaster” and “a convoluted law that instills terror in those who assist women exercising their rights between 6 and 24 weeks.”

Sotomayor’s other three books have focused on her childhood in the Bronx, her Princeton education, and her confirmation on the Supreme Court, always focusing on her mother’s support and love throughout her life.

“In a story inspired by her own family’s desire to help others” the Amazon description for her book reads. “Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor takes young readers on a journey through a neighborhood where kids and adults, activists and bus drivers, friends and strangers all help one another to build a better world for themselves and their community.”

Her life hasn’t been without its challenges. She was raised by her mom after her father passed away when she was a child, living in a housing project in New York. She was also diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and has managed her illness throughout her life.

“Changes in the world don’t always happen in giant leaps. It takes every one of us purposely looking at the world around us and say, how do I make it better?” Sotomayor said about her book. “If we each did that, we would be living in a better world.”

She added of what her mother would think of her latest book: “She would have been just delighted. This morning mom would’ve woken up with a big smile.”

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