There are so many children’s books about names. Finding the best children’s books about names that incorporate diversity and understanding of diverse cultures and traditions can be difficult. You also don’t want to read the same book year after year for your back to school, identity or learning your name unit. These are some of the best children’s books about names for Kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth grade all recommended by the amazing group of educators in the Picture Book Brain community.
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Check out the books:
Teach Us Your Name by Huda Essa
An amazing book that made me question how I’ve learned my students’ names. This book has forever changed how I will learn my students’ names. Kareemalayaseenadeen hates her name because it’s so long and not normal. Her teachers never know how to say her name and she’s too embarrassed to correct them. She even starts accepting the way that others say her name. This all changes when she visits her family in another country and they can all pronounce her name and she learns the meaning of it.
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
A Caldecott Honor-winning book with a story as beautiful as its illustrations. If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. A beautiful story by Peruvian author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal that is also available in Spanish as Alma y como obtuvo su nombre.
My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin
When Bilal and his sister Ayesha move with their family, they have to attend a new school. They soon find out that they may be the only Muslim students there. Bilal sees that his sister is bullied for being Muslim, so he decides to hide it by saying that his name is Bill. Mr. Ali, one of Bilal’s teachers and also Muslim, sees how Bilal is struggling. He gives Bilal a book about the first person to give the call to prayer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. That person was another Bilal: Bilal Ibn Rabah. What Bilal learns from the book helps him accept his identity and live proudly.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids won’t like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name. Her new classmates decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again? A classic book whose impact is still just as palpable with today’s audience as it was when it was first published. A favorite book for back to school also!
My Name is Elizabeth! by Annika Dunklee
Meet Elizabeth. She’s got an excellent pet duck, a loving granddad and a first name that’s just awesome. After all, she’s got a queen named after her! So she’s really not amused when people insist on using nicknames like Lizzy and Beth. She bears her frustration in silence until an otherwise ordinary autumn day, when she discovers her power to change things once and for all.
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
Yoon’s name means “shining wisdom,” and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names―maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name…one that’s all his own. Dad is known as big Thunder, but little thunder doesn’t want to share a name. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he’s done like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder. Just when Little Thunder thinks all hope is lost, dad picks the best name…Lightning! Their love will be loud and bright, and together they will light up the sky.