I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark Book Poster Image
Inspiring bio of Supreme Court justice empowers girls.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Biographical information on Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Historical information about immigrant groups in mid-century Brooklyn; sex-role expectations in the 1940s; Jim Crow laws and discrimination against Jews, African-Americans, Mexicans; discrimination against women in the workforce; function of the Supreme Court; legal meaning of "opinons" and "dissent"; career path of law school to lawyer to judge. Afterword explains specific cases in greater depth and names other women who fought for equality.

Positive Messages

You don't have to do what the world expects you to; you can dissent. Women can have important, influential careers. Even when you face discrimination and setbacks, you can achieve great things. It's important to fight for equality.

Positive Role Models & Representations

RBG is an extremely impressive role model. Though she came of age in an era when women weren't expected to work or achieve, she trusted her own path. She overcame prejudice directed at her because she was female and Jewish. She pursued higher education and law school and successfully managed both family and career. When she was denied positions or access, she pursued alternate career paths. She fought for equality for women, African-Americans, other minorities. She's articulate, confident, and powerful and became a justice on the highest court in the land.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, is an informative and engaging biography of the first Jewish woman to serve on America's highest court. Born in an era when girls were expected to limit their aspirations to the domestic sphere, Ginsburg dedicated herself to fighting for the rights of women and minorities. When she encountered obstacles, she persisted. The complicated legal ideas in the text are explained clearly and simplified for the intended age group, and the art humanizes the heroine and gives the book heart. RBG's life and accomplishments are truly inspiring, a powerful model for young readers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byJune S. April 8, 2017

Callie wrote a letter

My Great granddaughter read the book. She is almost 7 years old. She read it to her class in the library. Then she wrote a letter to Judge Ginsburg in which... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old May 20, 2018

Inspiring picture book bio for young girls

A friend of mine lent a copy of this book to me, saying, “You have to read it!” I trusted her on this, because she had given me several great recommendations in... Continue reading

What's the story?

I DISSENT: RUTH BADER GINSBURG MAKES HER MARK tells the story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg rose to become a Supreme Court justice. Born into a Jewish family in 1930s Brooklyn, she grew up when girls were expected to raise families but not participate in the workforce, and encountered prejudice against Jews and other minorities. But Ruth's mother supported her ambitions and education, and Ruth went on to attend law school, where she met her husband and started a family, sharing household and child-rearing duties, an unconventional arrangement at the time. When law firms wouldn't hire her, she worked as a law professor and argued cases about equality for women. President Jimmy Carter appointed her as a judge in Washington, D.C., and Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court, the first Jewish woman on the nation's highest court, where she continued to fight for equality. A few meaty pages of afterword include more detail about Ginsburg's life and the important court cases she influenced.

Is it any good?

This bio of Justice Ginsburg is supremely inspiring, breaking down complicated ideas about the constitution, legal system, and issues of equality for young readers while celebrating Ginsburg's life. Levy cleverly pulls out words that show Ginsburg disagreeing with the status quo and organizes the narrative around them. The young Ruth in I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark not only dissented, she also "protested," "objected," "disapproved," "resisted and persisted," and "did not concur" -- which arms young girls with a vocabulary to use when they run up against opposition.

Illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley's illustration works perfectly with the text, vividly portraying the settings and experiences of the young Ruth, who's pictured with a determined glint in her eye, rendering her relatable to smart, plucky girls everywhere.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the injustices portrayed in I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. How has the world changed since RBG was young? Do you see injustice? What can you do about it?

  • Ruth liked to read about heroines in her favorite books. What female characters do you like?

  • The author introduces lots of words to characterize Ruth's response to things she disagrees with: dissent, protest, object, does not concur. Can you think of ways you can apply them to your life?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love biographies and strong girls

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