Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!
I’m doing things a bit different in this post simply because I wanted to dedicate a full week of reading to children’s books about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was amazed when I discovered 11 children’s books (two due for publication in December). Many of the events and experiences from Ginsburg’s life are repeated in each book, so I won’t attempt to rehash or summarize each book. I’m mostly wanting to provide a glance at the general layout of the book, the artwork, and graphics.
I’ve learned a great deal, this week, and have felt a terrible sense of loss while flipping through these pages. The Supreme Court press release referred to Ginsburg as “a tireless and resolute champion of justice.” And this is apparent once you take a look at her record, including any failures she experienced. However, it’s the small interactions and every day happenings that fully revealed her character — those ongoing choices that can truly make or break a person’s integrity. She believed that leading a meaningful life meant living for one’s family and one’s community, not for oneself. And this was certainly exemplified in the decisions she made over the course of her lifetime. So if you haven’t already had the pleasure of reading these books, I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your wish list.
The Story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
A Biography Book for New Readers
Susan B. Katz
March 3, 2020
This book is a nonfiction chapter book with pictures, graphs, and bolded quotes scattered throughout. I found it very helpful because it’s currently the latest publication on her life. And at 62 pages, it packs in a great deal of information for young children with important timeline events highlighted and quotes shared. The chapters are as follows:
Chapter 1: A Trailblazer is Born
Chapter 2: The Early Years
Chapter 3: A Woman in a Man’s World
Chapter 4: Fighting for Equality
Chapter 5: It’s a Woman’s World, Too!
Chapter 6: Inside the Courtroom
Chapter 7: Justice Ginsburg
Chapter 8: So… Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg? (Quiz included)
The back matter includes a 6-paged glossary and a 4-paged bibliography
Since both Goodreads and Amazon say this book was published last spring, I was surprised when the end of the book discussed Ginsburg’s death on September 18, 2020. So clearly, the e-book has been updated to share her recent passing. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of the illustrations, below:
This picture book was another 2020 publication that I was delighted to find already catalogued in our college library. The artwork is STUNNING with sometimes more than one very detailed illustration spread across two pages. I wish I could share more than one image of this book on my blog, just to showcase more (but… fair use rules)! There’s a surprising amount of text on each page, which I was happy to see because it added to my understanding of RBG’s life experiences. While the beginning of the book shared details about her childhood, schooling, and marriage, a good half of this book was devoted to sharing very interesting court cases she argued (and mostly won). Quotes were set aside in bold text, as well.
The back matter includes a timeline of important dates, an authors’ note, an illustrator’s note, and a selected bibliography. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of the gorgeous artwork:
Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
Patricia Brennan Demuth
Jake Murray, illustrator
December 3, 2019
This is another (even more lengthy at 112 pages) nonfiction chapter book that chronicles the life of Ginsburg from her birth on March 15, 1933 through 2018. It starts with a section on “Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” which talks about how her mother taught her to care for others who had even less than they had. So for every birthday, Ruth celebrated at a nearby orphanage with children who didn’t have parents. She and her mom brought treats and she enjoyed the smiles on their faces, immensely. And wow, this little childhood story doesn’t surprise me in least! The remainder of the chapters are as follows:
Chapter 1: An Immigrant Family
Chapter 2: A Terrible Secret
Chapter 3: Opposites Attract
Chapter 4: Law School
Chapter 5: Changing Times
Chapter 6: Landmark Cases
Chapter 7: From Lawyer to Judge
Chapter 8: “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!”
Chapter 9: “I Dissent!”
Chapter 10: RBG Today
A few points of interest:
- This book shares more about Ginsburg’s fascination with art and opera.
- The library she frequented as a child was built over a Chinese restaurant, so the smell of soy sauce and egg rolls always reminded Ruth of books.
- Her mother surprised the family for after her death when they discovered she’d hidden away $8,000 to help pay for Ruth’s college, despite her terrible bouts with cancer.
- While Ruth was good at many things, she actually flunked her driver’s test five times before finally passing.
- This book is also the first time I learned the story behind her nickname of “the Notorious RBG” when she suddenly became a pop-culture hero.
The back matter includes a timeline of her life, a timeline of the world, and a bibliography. The illustrations are mostly black and white sketches between large sections of text. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect:
Okay, with each new RBG book I’ve read, I keep finding a new favorite. But I think this one is really my favorite. I’m actually not much of a graphic novel reader these days, but I was thrilled to find this 208-paged graphic novel that revealed more of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s attitude and spirit with wonderful facial expressions. A few new points of interest:
- We see more about her life as a Jew in America and how she and her family reacted to the various happenings of WWII.
- We see the impact Elenor Roosevelt had on both RBG and her mother.
- Her husband, Marty, originally was a chemistry major and appears to have dropped that major to be in classes with RBG.
- Ruth’s cooking was a disaster, so Marty felt he had to learn to cook by necessity. He loved cooking and felt it was just like chemistry.
- At Harvard Law School, women had to run across campus to find a women’s bathroom.
- As RBG began working with other law students and fighting against differential treatment that oppressed women, they called the system of oppression “Jane Crow” (a takeoff on Jim Crow).
- I love that RBG’s mother continues to re-appear as a memory, reminding her of the lessons she was taught as a child.
The book contains 37 chapters focusing on different period of her life and then ends with a lengthy 8-paged Epilogue (not in graphic novel format) which was a beautiful conclusion to an amazing biography. The back matter includes a Timeline from 1933 to 2018, a 4-paged Selected Bibliography, and 9 pages of detailed Quotation Sources. Please go get this book! I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
(You Should Meet)
Elizabet Vukovic, illustrator
August 27, 2019
This 48-paged picture book covers all the main details available in other books and I really liked the adorable illustrations found throughout. Young children will definitely appreciate the detail (and some pages have more than one illustration). The Table of Contents is as follows:
Chapter 1: Brooklyn Born
Chapter 2: College Dreams
Chapter 3: Professor Ginsburg
Chapter 4: The Women’s Rights Project
Chapter 5: You Can’t Spell “Truth” without Ruth!
But Wait… There’s More!
New points of interest:
- Ruth’s mother, Celia, was extremely committed to Ruth’s education.
- She had to sneak into quiet bathrooms to study, during college.
- It was RBG’s tuna casserole that made Marty begin cooking. LOL!
Here’s one page spread to serve as an example:
This one is a cute little board book with only 22 pages. As it’s intended for toddlers, there are very few words on each page. In fact, every other page begins with “Ruth is…” and fills the space in with smart, strong, a leader, and a feminist, followed by another page spread with a few details. It’s a great way to introduce very young children to Ginsburg. Here’s one page spread as an example, below:
I’m so happy my college library had this title in print because the 48 pages were a delightful mix of colors and information to read in non-digital format. The book kickstarts the story by reminding the reader that there is more fairness for women, today. “Sometimes the things we take for granted today happened because of a single person. This is the story of one of those change-makers: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, fierce fighter for fairness and truth.” Points of interest:
- Ruth chipped a tooth while twirling her baton.
- She kept her mother’s battle with cancer a secret from everyone she knew.
- She missed her graduation since her mother died just the night before.
- Other college students referred to Ruth as “scary smart.”
- In Ruth’s first case as a lawyer before the Supreme Court, she was met with stony silence. Not one of them asked a question (which was highly unusual).
- She always wore her mother’s pin and earrings to her cases before the Supreme Court.
- During her years on the Supreme Court, she went parasailing, white-water rafting, horseback riding, paddleboarding, and water-skiing.
The book ends with a timeline, a detailed explanation of the American federal court system, a “Top 10 Moments When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fought for Fairness on the Supreme Court” page, and a list of sources. The artist used traditional arts media and digital techniques to make the illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
This is another great 48-paged picture book and I really appreciated how it began like a court case: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: During this trial, you will learn about a little girl who had no clue just how important she would become. You will see the unfair world she was born into–where boys were valued more than girls, where women were not encouraged to achieve and aspire. You will see evidence of that unfairness, just as she herself has seen it all her life. Here are the fact of her case.” Isn’t that wonderful! Points of interest in this book:
- Ruth’s father owned a fur shop for many years and later worked at a clothing store.
- Her father never finished high school.
- Ruth’s mother never went to college and she got a job to pay for her brother’s education. But she wanted a different life for Ruth.
- Ruth had many interests in high school, such as editing the newspaper, playing cello, twirling the baton, etc.
- One of her most famous quotes about her mother during her acceptance speech for the Supreme Court: “I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve, and daughters are cherished as much as sons.”
The book concludes with a detailed 2-paged glossary and an Author’s Note with many more details about RBG’s life. The illustrations in this book were made with gouache, ink, and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect in this picture book:
Aaaaaand I’m now at my final RBG picture book. Sniff, sniff. But at 40 pages, this was another good introduction to Ginsburg’s life. Throughout the story, the author playfully points out that Ginsburg disagreed, protested, objected, disapproved, resisted, did not concur, and dissented. Points of interest:
- Ruth grew up in a very diverse neighborhood full of immigrants — there were people from Italy, Ireland, England, Poland, and Germany.
- She read books about Nancy Drew, Amelia Earhart, Athena (goddess of Greek myths).
- Ruth had a very bad experience with trying to be forced into writing with her right hand, when she was left-handed.
- Her music teacher wouldn’t let her sing out loud in the chorus because her voice was so bad.
The back matter includes a lengthy 2-paged section with more details about RBG’s life followed by Notes on Supreme Court Cases, a Selected Bibliography, and Quotation Sources. The illustrations for this book were rendered using a mix of traditional and digital media. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
The following two books will be published in December, so feel free to add them to your Goodreads “Want to Read” List:
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge: 277/300