Names are on my mind at this time of the year. Or I should say, names are IN my mind at this time of the year, because, until the first day of school on Thursday, that's all most of my students are to me -- a list of names. Names to put on name tags, on charts, on die cut birthday cakes. Many of my students have names that are tricky for a native English-speaker -- names with lots of consonants or with the accent on an unusual (for me) syllable, and all have names that come packed with family and cultural history.
I have a collection of picture books that I use at the beginning of every year to talk about names:
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin
My Name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed
This year, I have a new book to add to my list of favorites:
My Name is Elizabeth!
by Annika Dunklee
illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
KidsCan Press, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher
Elizabeth loves her name, but she doesn't like it when people call her names other than Elizabeth. Lizzy, Liz, Beth, Betsy...none of them will do. She asserts herself in a LOUD double page spread, and the people in her world get her message and call her Elizabeth. (Or as close to that as the baby can get!)
I can totally relate to Elizabeth. I've always been Mary Lee, never Mary. And I, too, have learned to advocate for the name that encompasses my identity.
Because of my own sensitivity about my name, I work extra hard to get my students' names just right. I look forward to Elizabeth helping with that conversation this year!
The New York Times agrees that this will make a great back to school book.
Betsy (Elizabeth) Bird reviewed the book on Fuse 8.