Supreme Court Justice and author Sonia Sotomayor visited the KiMo Theater in downtown Albuquerque on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. to talk about her new children’s book, "Just Ask."
Sotomayor was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama in 2009. She is the first Latina Supreme Court justice. Sotomayor earned her bachelor of arts from Princeton University and also earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.
When asked about how and what she does as Supreme Court justice, she answered, "Every decision judges make hurts someone... most of my work is spent sitting at my desk reading... (and I) deal with the biggest legal questions in the world."
Her book "Just Ask" is a story about 12 disabled children, describing their disabilities and what they struggle with. She emphasizes to readers that people with disabilitties are just like everyone else.
According to Sotomayor, the idea for her book has been in her head for over 30 years. She explained that it took so long to create due to her struggle with diabetes and the shame she felt having to take medication, along with the idea of taking medication in front of other people.
"I wanted to encourage kids with different conditions to have their voice and understand that they don’t have to be afraid," Sotomayor said.
Like the children in her book, she experienced her own endeavor with a disability: Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 7.
She finally decided to write her book after an experience she had at a restaurant where a woman watched her inject insulin into herself in the bathroom.
Later, Sotomayor said, the woman walking by her made a comment to the person she was with, saying Sotomayor was a "drug addict." Overhearing this, Sotomayor spoke up and said to her, "If you don't know something, ask, don’t assume."
As she eventually became able to write about her experiences with a disability, "Just Ask" came to fruition. The book was a two-year project.
"(It was) the hardest writing I’ve ever done," Sotomayor said.
Rafael López illustrated for Sotomayor’s book. López struggles with dyslexia, and he has a son who has high-functioning autism. López is separate from the Rafael mentioned in the book who has asthma and is illustrated painting rocks and avoiding the yard work that the other children in the book are doing.
After speaking about the book, Sotomayor made her way around the crowd, answering questions from Pat Mora that had been asked by children before the event in a Q&A session. Mora is an award-winning author of books and a literacy advocate.
Encouraging children to write, Sotomayor told the audience to "write about what excites you," speaking about her own experiences with writing and reading. She also encouraged children and adults alike to read.
After the event, Sotomayor held a book signing in the theater. People interested in buying the book can find it on Amazon.com for $13.99 or at BookWorks.com for $17.99.
Sotomayor added this book to her collection of other books: "Turning Pages: My Life Story," "My Beloved Story" and "The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor," broadening her audience to children.
Daily Lobo Co-Sports Editor Ally Rael contributed to this story.
Ellie Aikman is a freelance reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eaikman1230