A Judge Grows in the Bronx

My Holiday gifts are still arriving in the mail because I, like ABC Family, have 25 days of Christmas. In actuality, shopping online means that I get packages in the days leading up to and days after holiday season. Today I received a new copy of A Judge Grows in the Bronx. My mom took the book and read it, claiming “I started on the first page, and could not stop.” I liked the book for many reasons, and I found the reading experience interesting because I had read Sotomayor’s personal memoir, My Beloved World.

The book does a great job of synthesizing some of the obstacles and achievements of Sonia Sotomayor. The book discusses her diabetes, her life in the projects, and the loss of family members. The author included the challenges solely to prove to readers how Sonia refused to let them prevent her from becoming a judge. The recurring theme of the novel is Sonia’s determination. The theme of determination alone, is a substantial reason to purchase this book for classrooms and personal libraries. Everyone can be inspired by Sonia’s refusal to allow her setbacks to predict her future.

Another great aspect of the book is what covers the pages. Beautiful illustrations compliment the bi-lingual text. Each English excerpt of the book was accompanied with a Spanish translation. Readers of different age-levels will be engaged not only by the beautiful illustrations, but the text. The Bi-Lingual inclusion allows for ESL readers to enjoy the story, and learn from it’s message.

The language also serves to reflect the story of Sonia, who was raised with influences from her Puerto-Rican culture. Her memoir is written with certain Spanish terms, because the language, and the culture associated with it, were a significant part of her life. The memoir did a great job of discussing these influences, by talking about the intricate stories Sonia’s grandmother told, Sonia’s mother’s journey from Puerto Rico to the United States, and her close relations with her relatives. The culture was significant in her campus activism, and in the earliest stages of her life as a lawyer. I wish the book had discussed more of the significance of her culture, but it did a great job of introducing some of the major themes in the book.

Those leading discussion of this book can find great themes to talk about but the following link has additional discussion questions. There are also great activities and research. A Judge Grows in the Bronx There are many ways to create lesson plans about this book, and the bi-lingual text makes it a great text for Spanish classrooms as well.

I recommend this book to readers of all ages, as it is a great introduction to an inspiring woman. Anyone can relate to at least one obstacle her story – whether it is her diagnosis, her difficult upbringing, or simply her challenges  in college – and find joy in her triumphs. Take some time to read it, and I challenge you to read My Beloved World so you can compare the two texts as well. Both are worth the time.

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