This spring, young readers will have the opportunity to learn more about Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson when the first picture book written about the history-making Supreme Court Justice goes on sale. Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Tami Charles celebrates the life and legacy of the first Black woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court in a picture book biography for kids, “Ketanji Brown Jackson: A Justice for All.” Charles’ words are beautifully illustrated by Jemma Skidmore, and help bring Justice Jackson’s inspiring story to life.
We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the cover and catch up with Tami Charles to learn more about the inspiration behind her book.
Charles’ mother, an educator, fostered a love of reading and writing in her daughter that inspired her to create her very first children’s book at age five. “I wrote the story, drew the pictures and put a price on it (10 cents),” she said. “I think that was the impetus for me to want to become an author one day.”
But her story is similar to other creators of color who didn’t have a lot of examples on store shelves to follow. “I didn’t see many authors of color in the stores I went to or in the libraries of the schools I went to,” she said. “It was one of those dreams I kind of tucked away, and I did the next best thing. I became a teacher, like my mama.” It was her students who inspired Charles to pursue her passion for writing, and she hasn’t stopped.
For a product of Newark Public Schools, the announcement of a Black woman’s nomination to the Supreme Court was exciting. But Charles says it was the image of now-Justice Jackson’s daughter watching her mother in the Senate confirmation hearings which inspired the idea for her picture book.
“We have so many children’s books where the parent dotes on the child. But I don’t think I’ve read many books where the child is doting on the parent. And it’s that picture that really captured my attention,” she said. “This is a moment for all of us to be proud of. She’s breaking barriers. She’s opening doors for us.”
The idea of a Black female Supreme Court Justice may not be as exciting for kids who grew up knowing Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, as it is for their parents. But Charles says she hopes her story will continue to inspire young people to pursue their dreams. “My hope is that readers will find their own personal hero in their community,” she said. “I want young readers to see the importance of witnessing someone live their dream and that the inspiration trickles down to them where they realize that they can achieve what they want.”
“Ketanji Brown Jackson: A Justice for All!” goes on sale on April 4, 2023 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.