BY ISABEL RODRIGUEZ ’21
Sonia Sotomayor, the third woman and first-ever Hispanic person to hold a Supreme Court seat, has recently released two autobiographies, now abridged for young readers. Her writing journey began in 2013 with her autobiography, “My Beloved World,” which she then adapted into two new books designed for young readers. One of the books, “The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor,” follows the same format as her first book, beginning with Sotomayor’s juvenile diabetes diagnosis. Both continue to share the story of how she dealt with issues in her own life, such as poverty and the death of her father, which ultimately put her on the trajectory to becoming the person she is today.
According to the Associated Press, Sotomayor’s cousin, Miriam Gonzerelli, inspired her to make an abridged version of her autobiography for younger readers. “I wanted [my students] to have access to Sonia’s amazing story,” said Gonzerelli in an interview with the Associated Press. Gonzerelli, a bilingual teacher, noticed her English language-learning students had a difficult time reading “My Beloved World” when she taught it in class. Her students are mostly from Central America and connect with the nation’s first Hispanic justice in a way that makes her story meaningful to share, especially in a more accessible format.
Sarah Paust ’20 agreed about the importance of Sotomayor’s abridged stories. “I think it’s really important that young girls have a variety of role models [such as Sotomayor],” said Paust. She added that it’s especially valuable for early readers to be exposed to representations of women acting outside of traditional gender roles.
Sotomayor’s second book, “Turning Pages: My Life Story,” is a picture book aimed at elementary school students. Sotomayor explores the importanceof books in shaping her own life. “The power of words is in creating pictures in your mind,” said Sotomayor, addressing the audience at the 18th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival, according to NBC. “As a child, I explored the world through books. [They] were the key to deciding to become what I am today.”
At the conference, Sotomayor shared her plans to release another children’s picture book next year that will share the stories of “children with differences,” inspired by her own experience as a child diagnosed with diabetes. In an interview with the Washington Post, Sotomayor explained that the children’s book is meant to highlight the great things that can happen when people come together despite their differences. “[The book] showcases how those who are challenged present an opportunity [to make] positive contributions,” she said. According to Sotomayor, the book features children with visible and invisible disabilities including blindness, wheelchair use, Attention Deficit Disorder and Down Syndrome. Together, all of these children build a garden. “It shows that we may all be different,” she said, “but despite this...we can make a more beautiful world.”
The English versions of both books, “The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor” and “Turning Pages: My Life Story” were released on September 4. Spanish versions of both books are to be released soon, according to the Associated Press.