Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Hello!  My Name is…

Most youth librarians can attest to the benefits that arise when you learn the names of their young customers.  When I greet children by name, they are often surprised initially surprised that I know them. The next reaction is to smile.

This simple gesture gives young patrons actual proof that we are committed to their well-being…that we care.  In my experience, it makes any behavioral issues I must address easier—they more fully believe I have their interests in mind.

As names are becoming more international, and parents are choosing to not “Americanize” (well…Anglicize?) names, I’ve noticed several picture books encouraging young people to demand their name be said correctly while simultaneously asking others to make the effort to do so a priority. 

I feel this in my bones.  My name, with its European background, is typically not problematic; however, I had one teacher who called me “Marie” for five years.  “Marie” is a lovely name…but it’s not mine.  Mine is a family name, my grandmother’s, celebrating my Italian heritage. 

I was too shy to say anything, although each and every time she said “Marie,” a boy in my class would say, “A” under his breath, though loud enough to hear.  Everyone giggled.  And although I was not the one in error, I was embarrassed.  Let’s get names right…and use these books as a vehicle to get others to do the same.

Say My Name by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Khoa LeHo explains the meaning and pronunciations of names from Chinese, Tongan, Persian, Navajo, Mexican, and Ghanaian traditions, explaining that we can only truly know each other through our names.

My Name by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat. Starting a new school is always hard, but when one child mispronounces a young Indian American boy’s name, the class’s snickers make him uncomfortable.  That evening, his parents reminded him how special his name—and he—truly is.

The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name by Sandhya Parappukkaran, illustrated by Michelle PereiraZimdalamashkermishkada decides to introduce himself as “Zim” when he starts a new school, but deep down, it just doesn’t feel right. 

Kantiga Finds the Perfect Name by Mabel Mnensa, illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen ThorneWhen her grandmother learns Kantiga does not like her name, she tells the young girl a story about a magical clay pot whose flaws make it perfect.

That’s Not My Name written and illustrated by Anoosha Syed. Mirha’s excitement for her first day of school is squelched when classmates mispronounce her name.  Maybe she should choose a new one—this time one she can find on a keychain at the gas station. 

My Name is Saajin Singh by Kuljinder Kaur Brar, illustrated by Samrath Kaur. Saajin loves his name, but when his teacher mispronounces it, he does not know if he should correct her or not.  After talking with his family, he decides to speak up.

There are others (think Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes), but these are some newer titles I’ve discovered.  What other books can help our readers?

This post addresses the core competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group, IV. Collection Knowledge and Management, and V. Outreach and Advocacy.  

2 comments

  1. Wina Mortenson

    Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, 2020, is very good.

    1. Maria Trivisonno

      Great Choice! Thanks 🙂

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