No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Book Poster Image
Meaty bio of RBG shows how she fought for women's rights.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

RBG's biographical details. The career of a lawyer. The career path to Supreme Court appointment. Federal judges are appointed by presidents. Names of landmark court cases having to do with women's rights and other important issues. The Federal Court system. Historical documentation that many of our current rights came about because RBG argued and ruled on cases that ensured legal fairness for women.

Positive Messages

Girls should be free to be smart and ambitious. Parents can encourage their daughters to excel. It’s good to fight against unfairness. The legal system is an effective way to fight. "Unfairness is bad for everyone; it's bad for men, it's bad for children."

Positive Role Models & Representations

RBG is a "fierce fighter for fairness and truth." She overcame discrimination against women not only to succeed in her own career, but to fight for fairness for all, changing the legal landscape. She was "scary smart." Ruth's husband liked Ruth's smarts and took on domestic chores at a time when few men did, which helped support her.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Nancy Zhang is a picture book biography of the Supreme Court justice that details her legislative accomplishments, particularly ones in which she fought for women's rights. The book details court cases in ways that make them accessible for young readers. Ginsburg, who grew up in an era when girls were actively discouraged from showing their smarts but excelled nonetheless, is a stellar role model for young girls today. The book also serves as an introduction to the Supreme Court, the U.S. Federal Court system, and the concept of law itself. A timeline, a flow chart of Federal Court system, and a list of 10 of Ginsburg's landmark cases are included at the end.

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What's the story?

NO TRUTH WITHOUT RUTH: THE LIFE OF RUTH BADER GINSBURG begins with Ruth's mother who was discouraged as a child from excelling in school, and so became determined to support her daughter in her academics and ambitions. Though her mother died when Ruth was graduating high school, Ruth went on to college and law school, where she encountered discrimination as one of very few females in her classes. Because no law firm would employ her, she became a law professor, and also founded the Women's Rights Project, writing arguments and arguing cases in lower courts, and then in the Supreme Court. She was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals, and later to the Supreme Court, where she went on to argue landmark cases that significantly improved the way women are treated under the law.

Is it any good?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a popular subject of biographies for kids, and this book adds significant meaty detail about legal cases and law to the field. No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn't shy away from presenting legal issues and court cases to kids, and successfully simplifies them so they’re understandable and interesting. It underscores the point that Ginsburg's work and advocacy as a lawyer and judge have changed many laws that directly affect our lives; it’s because of her advocacy and fight for fairness that we have many of the legal rights we do today. It also makes the point that ensuring legal rights for women helps ensure them for men as well.

There are a few odd moments. On one page, Ruth "could see her mom’s disappointment" when she "brought home a less-than-perfect report card," A- as shown in the art, and the mom's pictured turning away from Ruth in a pose that looks like maternal rejection. Another page proclaims, "By 1980, Ruth was the single most important fighter for fairness  -- women's and men's -- in American history," a statement that might have benefited by a bit more precision and clarity -- legal fighter? But these are quibbles in the context of the overall bio, which is inspiring and meaty, clearly and precisely detailing legal cases, while celebrating the passion and determination of this fierce legal fighter who cares so deeply about equality and justice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the obstacles Ginsburg encountered in No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Do you ever encounter obstacles because of your gender or other reasons? How do you deal with them? Does the job of lawyer or judge seem interesting to you?

  • How was life different for women when Ruth's mother and Ruth herself were young girls? In what ways have women become more equal to men? In what ways are women still unequal?

  • How does fighting for women's right’s also help secure men's rights? What examples of that can you find in the text?

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