Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva by Jacqueline Jules; Illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg. 2017. Published by Kar-Ben.
Brief summary: Akiva, a poor shepherd, takes care of a wealthy man’s sheep. Rachel, the daughter of the wealthy man, notices how kind Akiva is to the sheep. Although Akiva cannot read or write, Rachel sees that he is smart. The two marry without the blessing of Rachel’s father. After many years, Rachel lovingly encourages her husband to learn how to read and write. Akiva protests that at forty, it is too late to learn. She does not share his doubt. He decides to try by sitting with the children in a classroom and begins to learn to read a little at a time just like the drops of water he notices making a hole through the stone he saw next to the stream. His wife, once again, encourages her husband to further his education by going to study the Torah where he excels and becomes famous for his wisdom. Meanwhile, Rachel, works hard to keep a home for them upon his return.
Comment: What a wonderful story to teach perseverance, growth mindset, and sacrifice to reach a goal that may seem unattainable. This book is based on Rabbi Akiva, a great sage of the first century.
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I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy; illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. 2017. Traditional and digital media. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: Ruth Bader, daughter of a Russian Jewish immigrant, grew up in New York in the 1940s when men usually went to universities and got jobs while women married and were housewives. Her mother, Celia Amster Bader, wanted more for her daughter. She took her to the library to read all about successful females which helped her daughter soon realize that girls could have careers as well. As Ruth went through high school, she learned she was good at some subjects and not so good at others. She continued to high school becoming an outstanding student and had extra talents like being a baton twirler and cello player. The day before her graduation, her mother died. She decided to honor her mother’s wish and attend college in the 1950s which at that time was not a popular thing for girls to do. She met her husband, Marty Ginsburg, in college. They both went to law school, got married, and had a baby girl called Jane. Ruth experienced being in a field where there were few women and prejudices against Jewish people. She had another child named James while she worked as a law professor. She still managed to work and have two children which was not a very common thing women did at that time. In the 1970s, she fought cases for women to be in the workplace but also that men had a right to stay home and take care of children. She did such a good job as a lawyer that she was asked by President Bill Clinton to be a justice on the Supreme Court. When Judge Ginsburg votes with the winning side, she wears a special lace collar over her robe and another one when she dissents. At age 84, Judge Ginsburg still is one of the justices of the Supreme Court.
Comments: The narrative nonfiction book outlines the highlights of Judge Ruth Ginsburg’s life including a “More About Ruth Bader Ginsburg”, “Notes on Supreme Court Cases”, and “Selected Bibliography” sections in the back. This book could be used in elementary school as well as middle.
(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library).