Title: Just Ask! – Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
Author: Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrator: Rafael Lopez
Age Group: 6-10 years
If there is one thing that can handle the trickiest of things with ease, it’s BOOKS!
It’s the first time we read a book addressing diversity and inclusion. I have always been reluctant to read and address this issue with my sensitive boy. But, now with his widening social exposure, I thought it was relevant to have a conversation around this topic. I believe that there cannot be a better conversation starter than a book.
This book, “Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You” by US Supreme Court Justice – Sonia Sotomayor is inspired by her diagnosis of juvenile diabetes at the age of 7. It addresses 12 differently-abled children working together to build a community garden. This heart-warming story introduces 12 individuals with diverse conditions like diabetes, autism, asthma, dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, Down syndrome, etc.
The author uses the metaphor of a garden beautifully—
“Thousands of plants bloom together, but every flower, every berry, and every leaf is different. Each has a different smell, different colour, different shape, and different purpose”.
Each page discusses the superpower of a differently-abled child in detail and asks you a question about ‘your superpower’. These are in turn answered by another child who may be feeling different. The author returns, in the end, to ask, “What is your superpower?” She urges the readers to “Just Ask” whenever they wonder why someone is doing things differently. She writes, “When something seems different or new, I just ask my parents or my teachers and they help me to understand”. The illustrations by Rafael Lopez are bright, vivid and brilliant.
The takeaway from the book is that,
‘Be patient and do not hesitate to ask if you notice something different, but DO NOT ASSUME the worst’.
I would recommend the book for ages 6 onwards to be able to comprehend and absorb the uniqueness and straightforwardness of the book.
This book helped us to have a heart-to-heart conversation about one of our cousins who has Autism and one who has Down syndrome. I felt so light to be able to open that channel for communication through this book.
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