This is a different kind of review than what I usually write where I share thoughts and reactions from children in my school district. Today, I wanted to share with you what I learned from Sonia Sotomayor while she was traveling around the country promoting her newest picture book: Just Ask! Be Different! Be Brave! Be You! I consider myself so lucky to had a chance to sit and learn from here on that particular evening while she was visiting Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sonia Sotomayor was diagnosed with diabetes at a very young age. She learned early in life how important was to monitor her health, recognize the signs when she was starting to feel low, and know when to ask permission to go to the nurse’s office for her insulin dose. This was part of her life at a very young age. Fast forward several years, during her college years, she found herself feeling sick and immediately knew she needed her insulin dose. She used a restaurant restroom so she can inject herself with her appropriate dose of insulin. After a couple of girls left the restroom, she could hear those girls talking about her. They thought Sonia Sotomayor was using drugs and that was the story that was being told outside of that restroom. As Sonia exited that space, she looked at those girls and said, “You know, if you would have only asked, I could have tell you that I have diabetes. But instead, you made your own conclusion. If you are curious, just ask!”
She knew that moment was of a particular significant to Sonia Sotomayor. She knew that one day, she was going to write about this moment in a way that matters and in a way that honors our humanity. That was her inspiration for this beautiful book. Sonia often reflected on that moment and realize that, like a garden, we human beings have different experiences and different challenges. Each of us, choose how to face those challenges, but once you allow yourself to recognize your abilities, skills and gifts, you bring that into the world to work together and learn from one another.
It was Sonia Sotomayor’s wishes that children see their reflection into the pages of this book, and that once we recognize how different we all are, that this brings hope and inner strength. She encourages children that, instead of hiding pieces of us, we can share them and explore together. And if any point, someone does something different, don’t forget to Just Ask!