Just Ask – Sonia Sotomayor



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This beautiful hardcover picture book is the work of Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor. She was diagnosed with diabetes as a child and this inspired her to write a book that includes a group of children planting a garden. All the children in the book are differently abled. While they are all different, they plant a beautiful, varied garden together. The key message of the book is when you see something you don’t understand, just ask. We can all ask questions and learn about one another.

This book kindly and gently explains differences that we regularly see in classrooms and I love the encouragement to be curious about what is happening as a means to discuss and understand other people.

The book includes a page on diabetes, asthma, wheelchair use, blindness, deafness, dyslexia, autism  – and the fact that autism can look very different in different people, stuttering, Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, and even nut allergies.

Each of the topics is discussed using a character and some information on how they are impacted. There is a question at the end of each short section which can spark discussion, for example on the diabetes page Sonia asks “Do you ever need to take medicine to be healthy?”

Apart from the obvious use of this book to explain why someone in a classroom cannot eat nuts, uses medication or does certain things, I find this book a useful tool for discussing differing abilities. It is possible that young children have not been exposed to differing abilities. Talking about how abilities might affect say, our ability to walk or talk but will not affect our ability to think, understand or be friendly is an important lesson for children. I adore how this book explains this concept.

Target audience:
Parents of young children with any of the topics covered in the book will find the book a useful means to direct conversation around their child’s differences when joining a new class of school.

I think this is an excellent book for preschool and early junior school libraries and classrooms. It serves as an introduction to differing abilities. When we think of diversity, race and skin colour almost always come to mind first but ability is a crucial component and this book is excellent at prompting empathetic thinking around ability.


Learn more about this impressive judge on her Wikipedia page here.

Reviewed by Nathalie Mat


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