Whether it’s the first day of school and you want to set your class up for success or your child has a unique name, you’re in the right place! These are the best children’s books about names, and they’ll help every child understand the power of their own name and why it’s important to call people by their real names
Especially in the early years, it’s essential to make sure all students are called by their real names and to pronounce them correctly! Giving someone an unwanted nickname or telling them their name is “too hard” to say can make them feel excluded.
Your name is your identity. Being told your name doesn’t fit in feels like you don’t fit in.
Best Children’s Books About Names
It’s easy to get ahead of this issue and help all students recognize the importance of names by reading these lovely children’s books about names! All of the main characters struggle somehow to appreciate or understand their unusual names. These books make the perfect read-aloud, and you will surely have the best class discussions!
These titles are mostly picture books, and they range from modern classics to new releases. You’re sure to find plenty of great titles to celebrate unique names!
You may also like to pair one of these books about names with some children’s books about friendship, and talk about how those concepts go together.
Kids’ Books About Long Names
We’ll start this list off with a classic name book, along with a few others that address super long names.
In this back-to-school favorite, we meet a young mouse who loves her name until she starts school. Her new classmates tease her relentlessly for having a long and unusual name, causing Chrysanthemum to feel ashamed and embarrassed. Her understanding parents help her learn how to love and appreciate her unique name. This book can help young children gently realize it’s not very nice to tease others for their names without pointing the finger.
The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name by Sandhya Parappukkaran
When Zimdalamashkermishkada starts school, he goes by the nickname “Zim” to get past such a very long name. Fortunately, he finds a wonderful friend who helps him realize his name is perfect just as it is and that he doesn’t have to shrink any part of himself to belong.
In this Caldecott Honor book, author Juana Martinez-Neal tells the story of a young girl puzzled by the length of her name. Alma asks her father about the significance of each of her six names. She learns that each one represents a member of her family tree. Alma begins to see her name as a reflection of her family’s rich history and unique characteristics. This would tie in wonderfully with a back-to-school activity about learning where your name comes from!
Kids’ Books About Hard-to-Pronounce Names
This is such a perfect, classic name book for young students! When the main character starts at a new school, she chooses a new name from a glass jar because she doesn’t want to deal with people mispronouncing or teasing her for her name. Over time, a sweet friend helps her remember what’s so special about her name and its connection to her family. He helps her share her real name with the whole class, too!
I love that this book reveals the frustrations and struggles people experience when their name is frequently mispronounced. After her classmates mispronounced her name on the first day of school, she feels confused, then frustrated. The next day, she decides to correct them all, which becomes quite a task! It’s a great book to help kids sympathize with students whose names are mispronounced and to help them put in the effort to learn how to say each other’s names.
Kids’ Books About Unique Names
Gently pointing out that everyone has their own special name, What’s Your Name? is a great way to foster an open, honest relationship with your students or children. If we can honor that everyone is unique and deserves the respect of being called their actual name, we can avoid a lot of negative interactions early on.
Books About Names That Reflect Identity
Thunder Boy Jr. is one of the best children’s books about names because it’s so colorful and engaging. Alexie tells the story of a young Indigenous boy who longs for a name that reflects his true identity. Thunder Boy Jr. is tired of being called the same name as his father, Big Thunder. He wants a name that is a perfect fit for his personality. Your kids will appreciate Thunder Boy Jr’s journey to find just the right name. Plus. it’s a great lesson in honoring who you are.
Yoon struggles to navigate her identity in a world that doesn’t always understand or appreciate her culture. She has just moved to the United States and is hesitant to embrace her Korean name in a new place. She tries out different names and even considers choosing an American name. However, through the support of her family and the beauty of her language, Yoon comes to understand the power and importance of her own perfect name.
My Name is a Story by Ashanti
Save this book for your next writing unit! Ashanti is the new girl in her school and no one can remember how to say her name. She’s disappointed and doesn’t ever want to go back to school. Her mom helps her understand the story of her name by developing an acronym. This would be a great inspiration for a first-week-of-school acronym activity to learn about everyone’s names!
Your Name is a Song by Jamila Thompkins-Bigelow
This book is a beautiful celebration of Latin, African, Asian, and Middle Eastern names. It gently teaches about the history and musical influences in many of these cultural names. It’s also richly colored and will be so relatable for many students.
The Change Your Name Store by Leann Shirtliffe
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could go to a store and pick out your very own name? Wilma Lee Wu tries to do just that at the Change Your Name Store, but realizes every name has a special meaning and origin. This clever and colorful book teaches that names are special and carry a lot of meaning and history.
Yoko Writes Her Name by Rosemary Wells
Although Yoko learned to write her name at home in Japanese, her classmates make fun of her and say she can’t write. She learns to write in English throughout the year, just like her classmates. This is a lighthearted way to address cultural sensitivity, and there are many other Yoko books if your kids love this one!
How Nivi Got Her Names by Laura Deal
Nivi is a young Inuit girl who asks her mother about the story of her name in this sweet book. The girl’s mother tells her all about where her name comes from, which is slightly more complicated as Nivi was adopted. This book focuses on the beauty of a name rather than the pain of being different. Though too long for a preschool or kindergarten read-aloud, I think it still merits a place on your library shelf.
Kids’ Books About Nicknames
Some kids love having a nickname, while others dislike their name being shortened. These two titles are about characters who like to use their full names.
My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee
Elizabeth loves everything about her first name: the shape her mouth makes when she says it, that there’s a queen with the same name, that it has 9 letters, etc. However, people keep shortening her name and giving her nicknames, and Elizabeth does not like that at all. Follow along as she learns how to ask for what she needs from the people around her. This is a simple story with a great lesson!
My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada
When Maria’s teacher asks if she can go by “Mary” since they already had a Maria in her class, this little girl thinks of the special women in her family she was named after. She worries she would lose her identity if her real name isn’t used. This brief chapter book would make a great read-aloud for older primary students. It would also be an excellent mirror for students who have immigrated from other countries.
What are your favorite children’s books about names?
Do you have a favorite title on this list? Is there a book you want to recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments below!