I Dis­sent: Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg Makes Her Mark

  • Review
By – May 3, 2016

From her ear­ly life grow­ing up in Brook­lyn to becom­ing the first Jew­ish woman appoint­ed to a spot on the Supreme Court and beyond, I Dis­sent: Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg Makes Her Mark depicts the empow­er­ing life sto­ry of Supreme Court Jus­tice Ruth Bad­er Ginsburg.

Even as a young girl Ruth chal­lenged the notions of what she was sup­posed” to do. Boys were expect­ed to grow up, go out in the world, and do big things. Girls? Girls were expect­ed to find hus­bands.” With the encour­age­ment of her lov­ing par­ents, Ruth believed that despite the lim­i­ta­tions for girls, she should do any­thing she set her mind to, often inspired by her favorite sto­ries fea­tur­ing strong girls and women like Amelia Earhart and Nan­cy Drew.

And Ruth had no prob­lem dis­agree­ing — she defied teach­ers who forced her to write with her right hand when she was a lefty, she sang loud­er despite the music teacher ask­ing her not to, and she dis­liked the fact that she had to take sewing and cook­ing class­es while boys got to take shop class. On a car trip, Ruth saw racist signs, includ­ing one that read No Dogs or Jews Allowed.” This affect­ed her great­ly and set her on a life­long path to fight inequality.

Ruth went on to col­lege where she met her hus­band, Mar­ty. They both decid­ed to become lawyers. As one of only nine women (out of 500) stu­dents, Ruth sailed through law school, tying for first place in her class. Despite this, nobody want­ed to hire her. She was Jew­ish, a woman, and by this point, a moth­er. Three strikes,” Levy writes. But Ruth was not out. She resist­ed and per­sist­ed.” Even­tu­al­ly, Ruth became a pro­fes­sor and a renowned lawyer and in 1993, a judge on the Supreme Court. She refused to give up her con­vic­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly those which fought for the rights of women, immi­grants and African-Americans.

Although this book tells the fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry of Ruth Bad­er Gins­berg, it also pro­vides a his­tor­i­cal les­son which depicts the ever-chang­ing face of soci­etal norms and gen­der roles which Ruth chal­lenged per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly. For exam­ple, Levy describes how peo­ple found it strange that Mar­ty cooked the fam­i­ly din­ners while Ruth argued in the Supreme Court. Also includ­ed are actu­al quotes which illu­mi­nate the sex­ism in Amer­i­can His­to­ry which Ruth ardent­ly fought against.

Dis­agree­ing does not make a per­son dis­agree­able. In fact, it can change the world!” Levy encour­ages young read­ers. Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg’s sto­ry is one of hope and con­vic­tion, and I Dis­sent: Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg Makes Her Mark cel­e­brates her many con­tri­bu­tions and offers young read­ers a win­dow into the fight for jus­tice in America.

The text fea­tures bold, typo­graph­i­cal illus­tra­tions which high­light Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg’s pow­er­ful mes­sages. The book’s after­word fea­tures a more expand­ed depic­tion of Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg’s life and career includ­ing pic­tures, notes on some of her court cas­es and a bib­li­og­ra­phy. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 4 – 8.

Jil­lian Bietz stud­ied library tech­nol­o­gy and research skills and cur­rent­ly works in the library sys­tem. She is a book review­er for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and Kirkus Review Indie. Jil­lian lives in South­ern California.

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