As a child, Jessica Armstrong’s love of reading, writing and public speaking took her to law school and later to St. Luke’s University Health Network where she serves as associate general counsel.
Now, those interests have led her to a new opportunity: children’s book author.
Armstrong co-authored a newly released book called “Growing Up Supremely: The Women of the Supreme Court” (Eifrig Publishing, Amazon, $9.99).
The 32-page book is based on a scholarly book called “The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women,” which was written by Armstrong’s co-author, Nichola D. Gutgold, PhD., a published author, speaker and communications professor at Penn State University.
Armstrong and Gutgold will debut “Growing Up Supremely” on Friday, Feb. 21 at Swain School, 1100 S. 24th St., Salisbury Township. The co-authors will hold two sessions for students -- 1:30 to 2 p.m. for grades K-4 and 2:30 to 3 p.m. for grades 5-8.
A book launch party that is open to the public and media will be held 5:30 to 8 p.m. on the same day at Swain. The event will feature refreshments and games for children.
“Growing up Supremely” aims to teach children ages 6 to 12 about the four women --- Sandra Day O’Connor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor -- who were appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The book delves into the young lives of the four justices and looks at the obstacles they overcame in being appointed to the nation’s highest court.
“We want to help young readers see the qualities of the first four women who have served as Supreme Court justices in a way that will motivate them to think big, read more and become the adults they want to be,” said Armstrong, who lives in Allentown with her daughter, Keeler Nichols, 17.
She points to Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, as an example.
“She graduated at the top of her class, but she couldn’t find a job,” Armstrong said. “No law firm would hire her because she was a woman.”
Armstrong knows about perseverance.
A gymnast in her youth at the Parkettes in Allentown, she won a full scholarship to Stanford University. She then went to University of San Francisco School of Law and practiced law in California.
Armstrong returned to the Lehigh Valley in 1996 and later joined St. Luke’s legal team, helping the Network achieve its mission of providing a continuum of quality care.
“I love practicing law for St. Luke’s because I feel like I’m doing meaningful work in helping people,” she said.
Armstrong met Gutgold through a book club they belong to.
Gutgold has written other works about trail-blazing women. Gutgold’s book “Paving the Way for Madame President (Lexington Studies in Political Communication)” was co-written with the late Geraldine Ferraro, the first female Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Gutgold later turned that work into a children’s book she co-wrote called “Paving the Way for Madame President.”
When Gutgold asked Armstrong if she wanted to help write “Growing Up Supremely,” Armstrong jumped at the chance.
Making the experience even better was the fact that her mother, Karen Armstrong, was a co-illustrator. “It was a family affair working on this book. It was really fun,” she said.