What’s so special about books? A new picture book by Sonia Sotomayor explores this question, walking the reader through the books that have shaped her from childhood through her early years as a Supreme Court Associate Justice. TURNING PAGES is a unique autobiography that caused me to reflect on the life-changing power of books.


Turning Pages cover
We received a free review copy from the publisher. All opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, Lu and Bean Read will receive a commission on products purchased.

5 life-changing powers of books

1. Books introduce us to new worlds

Growing up with books means being exposed to places and worlds outside of your own experience from a very young age. In TURNING PAGES, Sotomayor describes how books helped her stay connected to her Puerto Rican birthplace even after her family moved to New York. Some of my earliest reading memories are of being transported to fictional lands like Narnia, as well as to unfamiliar settings like the Ozark Mountains in WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS. Whether real or fictional, being exposed to new places through books keeps our minds open to differences and allows us escape our daily realities.

2. Books Give Us Courage

Sotomayor describes how books gave her courage when she was diagnosed with diabetes as a young girl. Her books were a “magic potion” that helped her reimagine herself as a superhero. Even as an adult, books still have this power for me. Books like BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert give me the courage to try new things and to be willing to fail rather than be complacent.

3. Books Provide Truth

This political moment has been described as a “post-truth” era. That’s a scary thought! But books can provide an antidote to misinformation. Sotomayor describes her childhood joy when her mother bought a brand-new set of encyclopedias. I remember this same joy as a child—paging through our family’s set of red Encyclopedia Britannica books. Few families still have an encyclopedia, but most of us still rely on books to provide facts and truths about the world around us. For our family, nonfiction picture books have become a particular bright spot. They are a source of entertainment and information about subjects we never knew we wanted to explore.

4. Books build bridges and open windows

Books don’t just transport us to new lands–they build bridges between people. Maybe not directly, but they expose us to the way other people live and experience the world. This helps us develop empathy for people who have lived very different lives from us—both the good and the difficult. Sotomayor describes learning about injustice in the world around her through fiction books like LORD OF THE FLIES, through THE BIBLE, and later through her law texts. So many books have provided this window for me. This is one of the reasons I encourage Lu and Bean to read, and one of the reasons I’ll never stop reading!

5. Books provide a mirror

Books don’t just provide a window—they also provide a mirror. They help us better see and understand ourselves. Luckily, more and more books provide a diversity of experiences so that all of us can see ourselves in books. Sotomayor describes this as using books to find the puzzle pieces that bring your self-portrait together.

“Piece by piece, my puzzle came together. Where will your journey lead you?”

Get the book

TURNING PAGES: MY LIFE STORY is written by Sonia Sotomayor and illustrated by Lulu Delacre. It is also available in Spanish as PASANDO PÁGINAS: LA HISTORIA DE MI VIDA. It publishes today, August 28, 2018, from Philomel Books. Happy book birthday!
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