Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited Dallas Friday to discuss her two latest books, Turning Pages: My Life Story and The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor, which are versions of her best-selling memoir, My Beloved World.
The event, which took place at the Wyly Theatre, was moderated by Gloria Campos, who anchored WFAA’s primetime news for 30 years. Before the evening event, Sotomayor spent the day with children of Clara Oliver Elementary School and William Atwell Law Academy and read her books to them.
Both of her new books, in addition to her memoir My Beloved World, were released in Spanish at the same time they were released in English. Sotomayor does not want language to be a barrier to reading. Rather, she wants be able to teach, and encourages the audience to learn Spanish or English by reading both books side by side.
Sotomayor started the event by answering a few questions about her books, but spent most of her time with the audience posing for photographs and offering bits of life advice. Her biggest pieces of advice revolved around the ideas of love and dreams.
“To be successful in life, you need someone to love you,” Sotomayor said. This idea is present in her books’ accounts of those who loved her.
However, her books go beyond the power of love and take on a greater meaning for her personally. Growing up in the Bronx, New York, with a minority family, Sotomayor was never handed anything. For her, books have always been a part of her life, and it is what helped inspire her title for the children’s book, Turning Pages.
“The key to my life was books,” she said. “Books can tell you what it is possible to become.”
As Sotomayor made her rounds around the theater, it became evident that the evening was less about her books, and more about the people who had come to see her. She stopped by numerous families, posing for pictures with children while offering little snippets of advice along the way. The kids’ experience at the event was her primary focus.
La jueza #SoniaSotomayor presentó en #Dallas sus libros para niños y habló del orgullo que siente de sus raíces latinas, entre otros temas. Un evento de primera en el @ATTPAC. pic.twitter.com/nWK8mEZ62z
— Sandra Velazquez (@sandrav33) September 8, 2018
An audience member, Desiree Scott said she wanted her daughters to have a chance to see a female Supreme Court justice.
“I wanted to bring my daughters. I have twin girls that are in high school, just starting as freshmen, and I really wanted to have the opportunity to see a Supreme Court justice,” Scott said.
This family experience was not uncommon, in fact, it was a primary point of engagement for Sotomayor, a person whose family has always meant so much to her as she writes in her books.
Sotomayor’s personal story is also about love. As a child, Sotomayor lost her father early in her life because of a heart attack that came from his heavy drinking. Through writing her “parent book,” she discovered the love that was prevalent in her parents’ relationship, and also the love she found all around her with her siblings and abuelita. It is not only family that she points to as sources for help; she notes that teachers, religious figures, and friends can also be sources of love.
“There are always people in the world who will help you; you just have to accept their love,” she said.
Both her positive outlook on life and the importance of people in her life are ideas that matter to Sotomayor. The love she has did not go unnoticed by audience members either, with several visits being followed by applause. This love was what struck audience member Jonathan Micale about the night.
“I think, as everybody observed, the justice’s love for children was very apparent to everybody here in the room, and I think it’s a beautiful and wonderful thing,” Micale said.
That statement could not ring more true. Sotomayor gave her love and advice to an audience that was willing to listen and hear her story as she tells it. For many in the audience, the autographed book was icing on the cake. How did Sotomayor top that cake?
“Dream big” her signature autograph, where she encourages dreaming because she believes, “dreaming can lead you to great possibilities, even if you don’t accomplish your dreams.”