Copyright © 2018 by Juana Martinez-Neal. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press.

All September Picks

For Elementary Readers

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela thinks that six is way too many names! But as she learns more about how her names connect her to her family, Alma becomes very proud of all her names.

Apply in the Classroom

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.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

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?

Related Teaching Resources

Reading Is Fundamental support materials

Behind the Name: The Etymology and History of First Names

Interview with Juana Martinez-Neal

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

More Titles to Try

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 Ross