All December Picks

For Elementary Readers

Your Name is a Song

Frustrated that no one can pronounce her name, a young girl learns about the musicality of all names and teaches others at her school to sing—and say—her name correctly.

Apply in the Classroom

Talk with students about why names are important and why pronouncing names correctly is a big deal. Have each student pronounce their own names while other students repeat the name back. Then, if they wish to, have students try singing their names! Prompt students to reflect on their names, whether their first name, last names, nickname or entire name. What do they want others to know about their name? Have students write poems (acrostic or free verse) or songs about their names and plan an in-person or virtual poetry performance and/or concert for families to enjoy.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

What would you do if no one could pronounce your name on the first day of school?

Has anyone ever said or spelled your name wrong? How did that make you feel? What did you do? Or what did you want to do?

How do you show respect when using each other’s names? How can you be sure you are pronouncing a person’s name correctly?

What does identity mean? How do people’s names relate to their identity? What might your name tell others about your identity?

Related Teaching Resources

Author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow shares the pronunciations of the names featured in Your Name is a Song

My Name, My Identity campaign from the Santa Clara County Office of Education

My Multicultural Self lesson plan from Teaching Tolerance

Getting Students’ Names Right from Colorín Colorado

More Titles to Try

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

René Has Two Last Names / René Tiene Dos Apellidos by René Colato Laínez

My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin

My Name is Jorge on Both Sides of the River: Poems by Jane Medina

My Name is Sangoel by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi