Curriculum Spotlight: Name Stories

Dear Green Room “Robot Dinosaur” Families,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write the stories of your child’s name. Last week, we started reading them out loud to the children, one or two at a time. It has been wonderful watching their faces as we read them what you’ve written. They usually end up with the biggest grins on their faces! 

We’ve started making connections between name stories, as well. We’ve noticed that some people are named after family members while others are inspired by favored family spots. Some parents had names picked out way in advance, while others waited until their child arrived to give them a name. 

We will not be sharing these stories here on Storypark, but we will keep the book of name stories on our bookshelf for the children to return to throughout the year. They will have a little piece of you all – in your handwriting – here at school with them. 

To deepen this exploration, we have paired our own name stories with read-aloud books centered around the topic of names. We are sharing those books below, in case you’d like to read them at home.

A Name for Baby by Lizi Boyd

We began with this book, which is a story of how a mother mouse picks a name for her baby mouse. She says that a name is a “song” and it should “hum.” She tries out different names, but ultimately decides that each is not quite right. Eventually, she chooses a name for her baby and celebrates with friends. 

This book helped us start thinking about the process of families choosing names for babies. It gets the reader thinking about why certain names are chosen, as well as why certain names are not chosen. This book also shows that names are special and chosen with care.

My Name is Elizabeth! by Annika Dunklee and Matthew Forsythe

In this book, the main character is a girl named Elizabeth. She has many things she likes about her name, but she doesn’t like it at all when people call her by a nickname. Over the course of the book, people give her different nicknames, until she finally tells them to call her “Elizabeth!” 

We’ve talked about nicknames a few times in our class as we’ve taken attendance. We discussed how some people like nicknames, while others prefer to be called by their full name. What we really appreciate about this story is that, once Elizabeth tells everyone what she prefers to be called, they take her suggestion seriously and only call her Elizabeth. Similarly, in the classroom, we follow the preference of each child as to what name they would like to be called.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

In this story, a young mouse is given the “absolutely perfect” name, Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum loves her name…until she gets to school, and realizes that her name is much longer than anyone else’s. The other children in her class make her feel bad about her name, saying that they will “pick” her like a flower, and telling her that her name is too long to fit on a name tag. A special teacher, Mrs. Twinkle, helps Chrysanthemum love her name again.

That’s Not My Name! by Anoosha Syed

Reading this story back-to-back with Chrysanthemum helped reinforce the notion that names are special, unique, and should be respected. In this story, Mirha’s classmates – and teachers – don’t take the time to learn how to pronounce Mirha’s name properly. Mirha wants to change her name, but her Mama reminds her of its special meaning. Mirha goes back to school and teaches her classmates how to pronounce her name.

It was really lovely reading this book with your children, who were so confused as to why Mirha’s classmates couldn’t say her name right. One Robot Dinosaur suggested, “Maybe they don’t know her name. Maybe they only know their own name.” Your children easily and flawlessly repeated Mirha’s name after hearing it read aloud. We sure have some kind and attentive friends in the Green Room.

Home Connections

If you haven’t yet talked about your child’s name story with them at home, we encourage you to do so this week! As an extension, you could talk about the stories behind siblings’ names, or even tell the story of your own name if you know it.

Some other questions you can ask your child to get the conversation started:

– How do people choose names for their babies?

– Can you tell me about _____ [book title]? What did that story say about names?

– Do you remember which classmates’ name story you read today? Can you tell me about any of your classmates’ name stories?

– What letters are in your name? 

– Choose names together for stuffed animals/creatures at home that don’t yet have names!