HomeLearning CenterA 4-Year-Old Requested a Birthday Party Theme: Female Supreme Court Justices

A 4-Year-Old Requested a Birthday Party Theme: Female Supreme Court Justices

Originally published by Kyle Melnick for the Washington Post

When Jennifer Chang’s daughter said she wanted her 4th birthday party theme to befemale Supreme Court justices, Chang figured she would change her mind.

Her daughter, Jordan Nguyen, became obsessed with the justices earlier this summer after reading a book about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Chang thought that it would be a phase and that Jordan would ultimately decide she wanted a typical children’s party theme — maybe “Bluey,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” or “PAW Patrol.”

A few weeks ago, however, Jordan asked her mom for an update on her judges-themed party. Chang searched online for decorations, buying a cardboard cutout of Sonia Sotomayor, white balloons featuring Ginsburg’s face and Lego figurines of three of thejustices to place on the cake.

At a children’s gym in Houston on Saturday, Jordan pulled a black gown over her pink dress and swung a gavel in the air as guests sang “Happy Birthday.”

“She doesn’t completely grasp the civic weight of what a Supreme Court justice does,” Chang, 35, told The Washington Post. “But I think she just really enjoys that these are important, special, smart people.”

In June, Chang’s husband, Paul Nguyen, took Jordan on her weekly library visit when he saw a children’s book about Ginsburg on the end of a table. He thought Jordan would enjoy the book, “I Look Up to … Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” by Anna Membrino.

It soon became one of Jordan’s favorites. She memorized facts about Ginsburg, such as when she was nominated to the Supreme Court (1993) and which president nominated her (Bill Clinton).

Although Jordan was captivated by the book, Chang had to level with her about some harsh, real-world truths about it. She was devastated when Chang informed her that Ginsburg is no longer alive. And she was surprised to learn that the illustration of Ginsburg lifting the Supreme Court building in the book wasn’t realistic.

Nevertheless,Jordan asked to check out more books about Ginsburg and other female Supreme Court justices. She next became interested in Sotomayor, who in 2009 became the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court. Chang renewed Sotomayor’s illustrated autobiography, “Turning Pages: My Life Story,” multiple times from the library until she just bought a copy.

Soon, Jordan had memorized facts about the six women who have served on the Supreme Court: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Conversations during family meals have turned from chatter about children’s TV shows to talk about the justices.

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