Sonia Sotomayor Quotes

Sonia Sotomayor Quotes And books

Inside: A list of Sonia Sotomayor quotes, along with suggested books and a biography.

Sonia Sotomayor is an inspiration for thousands, as a Latina who overcame many obstacles and rose to hold one of the top positions of power in the United States.

According to the White House Archives,

“She has been hailed as ‘one of the ablest federal judges currently sitting ‘for her thoughtful opinions’ and as ‘a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess and integrity’ for her ascent to the federal bench from an upbringing in a South Bronx housing project.”

If you are here specifically looking for Sonia Sotomayor quotes, click here to jump to that section!

“Experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

Related: Famous Latinos & Hispanic Americans Home Page

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First, let’s take a look at Sotomayor’s life and I’ll share some resources for learning more about her in the classroom.

Here’s an index of what’s included in the post. You can click on any link to jump straight to that section!

Sonia Sotomayor Biography

Fast Facts about Sonia Sotomayor

Birth: June 25, 1954
Birthplace: South Bronx, New York
Education: Princeton University (A.B.), Yale University (J.D.)
Career: Law, Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States
Famous For: First Latina to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court

Sonia Sotomayor was born in the South Bronx in New York on June 25, 1954, to a Puerto Rican family. Her father died when she was nine years old, making finances even tighter for Sotomayor’s mother. Her mother worked very hard, encouraging her children to study hard and prepare for college.

In spite of not speaking English before she was nine years old, Sotomayor did just that. She graduated as her high school’s valedictorian, and won a scholarship to attend Princeton in 1972, before attending Yale Law School. Sotomayor worked as an District Attorney in New York and then in private practice.

In 1992, she was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. In 1998, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and she was confirmed on August 6 of that year. This made her the first Hispanic to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the third woman. She is still currently serving as an Associate Supreme Court Justice.


  • National Women’s Hall of Fame
  • Named one of the top 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century (Esquire Magazine)
  • Featured in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

Interesting Facts about Sonia Sotomayor for Kids

Sotomayor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was just seven years old. She had wanted to be a detective when she grew up, but her doctor said a different career would be best. While watching a television show, she was inspired to become a judge and says she knew she would study law from the age of 10.

Resources for older students:

You also might be interested in my sets of biography slides and project templates for learning about Latinx and Spanish-Speaking leaders, plus a free guessing game.

Hispanic Heritage Month Project
Hispanic Heritage Month Project
Hispanic Heritage Month Game

Sonia Sotomayor Books

Sonia Sotomayor herself has authored several books, including several about her own life story. All are available in Spanish or English.

  1. My Beloved World / Mi mundo adorado by Sonia Sotomayor
    A #1 bestseller, Sotomayor wrote this memoir of her journey from the Bronx to the Supreme Court in 2013.
  2. The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor / El mundo adorado de Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor
    This is a version of My Beloved World, written for middle and high school students.
  3. Turning Pages by Sonia Sotomayor
    This book recounts Sotomayor’s life, and how books opened up the world for her. Young readers will be inspired by both her story of overcoming challenges and her love of reading.
  4. Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You / ¡Sólo pregunta!: Sé diferente, Sé valiente, Sé tú by Sonia Sotomayor
    Sotomayor uses the backdrop of children building a community garden together to show how children of differing abilities can work together to make the world more beautiful. She includes her own story of having diabetes as a child as well, and helps kids learn how to ask and talk to one another about their differences.

There are also some really good biographies for kids about Sotomayor’s life, including bilingual options and emerging readers.

  • The Curriculum Corner has lots of printables that go with the National Geographic biography.
  • Download questions to ask with the book Just Ask!

These links are affiliate links.

Videos About Sonia Sotomayor

Short biography in English (2min 56):

Sonia Sotomayor on Sesame Street (3min 39s) that explains to kids what judges do and what the supreme court is:

A short Sonia Sotomayor biografia in Spanish (2min 10s):

Quick animated bio in Spanish (55s):

10 Inspiring Sonia sotomayor Quotes

1. “It is important for all of us to appreciate where we come from and how that history has really shaped us in ways that we might not understand.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

2. “I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

3. “I realized that people had an unreal image of me, that somehow I was a god on Mount Olympus. I decided that if I were going to make use of my role as a Supreme Court Justice, it would be to inspire people to realize that, first, I was just like them and second, if I could do it, so could they.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

4. “Success is its own reward, but failure is a great teacher too, and not to be feared.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

5. “I have never had to face anything that could overwhelm the native optimism and stubborn perseverance I was blessed with.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

6. “I’ve spent my whole life learning how to do things that were hard for me.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

7. “I have come to believe that in order to thrive, a child must have at least one adult in her life who shows her unconditional love, respect, and confidence.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

8. “I don’t prejudge issues. I come to every case with an open mind. Every case is new to me.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

9. “There are uses to adversity, and they don’t reveal themselves until tested. Whether it’s a serious illness, financial hardship, or the simple constraint of parents who speak limited English, the difficulty can tap unexpected strengths.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

10. “Good people can do bad things, make bad choices. It doesn’t make them bad people.”

– Sonia Sotomayor

I hope these ideas and resources were helpful to you! If you have more ideas for resources or lessons, let me know in the comments below!

Sonia Sotomayor lesson plans

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