Each of my three children have a middle name that reflects part of their Korean/Japanese/Chinese ethnicity. My daughters have Japanese names — Keiko and Miyako; my son middle name, Gyung-Won, is the name of his Korean grandfather. Korean tradition does NOT use names of relatives, but it was our way to remembering my husband’s father who passed away when he was very young. Our son, more than his sisters, does not like his ethnic middle name. Perhaps one day he will appreciate the significance of it.
What’s in a name? For some children, it’s a link to their past, a reason to be bullied, a special meaning that boosts their self-esteem. In an immigration journey, a name is something that might be changed because it is hard to pronounce and remember. This book list shows the name sides of the importance of one’s name. I hope it helps teach kids empathy.
How about you? What books that reflect the importance of names do you like? Thanks for your recommendations!
Teaching Empathy through Books about the Importance of One’s Name
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Adopt a new “American” name or keep one’s ethnic name?
As a new immigrant, one of the first decisions to be made is what name to use in the new country. Should a new name signifying an attempt to assimilate be used, or should one’s ethnic, “difficult to pronounce and remember” name be retained? Fit in or stay true to yourself? Unhei has this decision and solicits the help of her new classmates with a name suggestion jar. It’s only when one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and learns the true meaning of her name that the significance of her Korean name comes out. Use this picture book for an immigration unit to help children realize the importance of “foreign” sounding names. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
by Kevin Henkes
When your unusual name makes you a target for bullies.
It’s not just the foreign sounding names that can be the source of bullying by classmates.Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect until she gets bullied by girls at school for her unusual name. The teasing starts to affect her self-confidence but the tables are turned when the class gets a new teacher who helps her recognize the beauty of her name with a secret of her own. [picture book, ages 4 and up]