The ever-inspiring Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, just released her fourth children’s book earlier this week, Just Help! How to Build a Better World, inspired by her beloved mom. Sonia credits her with instilling an attitude of positivity and optimism in her. Celina Báez Sotomayor died in July 2021 of cancer at 93 years old and following the loss Sonia was inspired to write this book to honor her mother’s legacy. It should come as no surprise that the first and only Supreme Court Justice of Latin American descent in history, and only the third woman in history to become a Supreme Court Justice pens a book about the importance of daily civic duties.
“I have eternal optimism, and I think that’s a product of how vibrant a person my own mother was,” Sonia recently told PEOPLE of her mom. Just Help! How to Build a Better World features Sonia as a child, and depicts her mother asking her, “How did you help today?” each night before bed.
Sonia recalled moving into her mother’s home in the summer of 2021 to help her through her last days, and explained how that experience and the desire to honor her mother’s memory inspired her to write the book.
“Some would say, ‘But that doesn’t improve the world,'” Sonia posited. “Well, that’s the purpose of my book: Every day that you have a thought about helping someone else, you are making the world a better place,” she said.
The picture book features illustrations by award-winning Mexican American children’s book author and illustrator, Angela Dominguez that beautifully showcases a diverse array of kids in the art for the book. The purpose behind Just Help is to show children that you don’t have to move mountains in order to change the world, that even small acts of service to others can make a world of a difference. The story features people in the New York City community Sonia grew up in, all contributing, all helping, in one way or another, and illustrates how just a little bit of kindness and generosity can bring a great deal of happiness.
Some of these small yet impactful acts of service she highlights in the book include letting someone sit with you on the bus when there aren’t seats available and sending care packages to soldiers overseas.
“Kids, and many adults, don’t realize that public service is not just those big acts of getting elected and making changes that way. But it’s the little things each of us do every day to improve our communities,” Sonia told TODAY‘s Savannah Guthrie, according to NBC News.
“Changes in the world don’t always happen in giant leaps. It takes every one of us purposely looking at the world around us and say, how do I make it better?” she continued. “If we each did that, we would be living in a better world.”