Sonia Sotomayor addresses attendees of an event promoting her new children's book "Just Ask!" . AP
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has said that the seed for what has become her latest children's book was planted the day a woman called her a drug addict.
Sotomayor, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 7, had gone to the bathroom of an upscale New York restaurant to give herself an insulin shot. She was in her 30s but hiding her diabetes. Another diner came in and saw her and later, as Sotomayor was leaving the restaurant, she heard the woman tell a companion: "She's a drug addict."
"I truly believe that if I can inspire the younger generation to see themselves as positive agents for change...that I will leave a more lasting legacy than what I can do as a judge.
Outraged, Sotomayor confronted her, explaining that the shot was medicine, not drugs: "If you don't know something, ask, don't assume," Sotomayor said.
From that exchange comes the title of Sotomayor's latest book, "Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You," released Tuesday and intended for kids age 4 to 8.
Sonia Sotomayor, left, is introduced by Agnes Scott College President Leocadia I. Zak. AP
A young Sotomayor begins the book by talking about her diabetes and encouraging children to ask about other kids' differences. Other children introduce their own challenges, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, blindness and Down syndrome.
"Differences provide not just beauty in life, but they're important to the quality of the world we live in. It's richer because of our differences. We're not lesser because of it. We're stronger because of it. My book celebrates the many ways in which kids and adults are different and do things differently," Sotomayor said in an interview ahead of the book's publication.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., right, watches as Sonia Sotomayor responds to a question from a child. AP
Sotomayor, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama in 2009, said she has wanted to write the book "forever" and that she was also motivated by hearing the stories of friends who have children with chronic conditions.
One child, she said, was separated from other students at school when it was time to eat because he had a host of allergies. Another friend's child who has Tourette's syndrome and therefore tics she can't control was told she was badly behaved by a shopper at a store.
Sonia Sotomayor reaches out to hug a child. AP
Sotomayor has come out with a string of books over the last year. Her memoir, "My Beloved World," came out in 2013. In 2018, she released a version for middle school readers and a picture book. Each of her books is also available in Spanish.
Sotomayor said it's important to her to continue to speak to and write for children. She has ideas for future books, likely related to civics, she said.
"I truly believe that if I can inspire the younger generation to see themselves as positive agents for change...that I will leave a more lasting legacy than what I can do as a judge," she said.
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