In the author’s note for this book, Juana Martinez-Neal shares the history of her name and invites readers to share the story behind their own names. Use this opening for discussion to encourage students to learn more about their own name stories—how they came to be named, how they chose a nickname, or another story about their names.
Ask students to interview family members to find out details about how and why they were given their names or acquired nicknames. Have students share their name stories with each other to further explore how naming is part of larger cultural traditions and how name-giving practices vary from culture to culture.
Is a name just another word, or it is something more?
How closely is one’s identity connected to one’s name?
Is your name connected to your family? How?
What is the purpose of names? Why do we have them?
Does your name help to make you who you are? Why or why not?
Would you ever want to change your name? What new name would you choose?
How would you feel if someone else decided that you would change your name?
Reading Is Fundamental support materials
Candlewick’s Alma Activity Kit
7 Naming Customs from Around the World from Tesol
Writing a Name Poem from ReadWriteThink
What’s in a Name? A Back-to-School Literacy Unit from Scholastic
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes,
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
René Has Two Last Names / René tiene dos apellidos by René Colato Laínez
My Name Is Sangoel by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed
Welcome Dede! An African Naming Ceremony by Ifeoma Onyefulu
Naming Ceremonies by Mandy RossMore