What’s In a Name? Using Books About Names in the First Weeks of School

Name Books

At School Literacy and Culture, we believe the best way to teach children the alphabetic principle is by using their very own names. Names are a powerful, developmentally appropriate tool for individualizing early literacy learning. Countless literacy objectives can be taught through names: phonological awareness, print awareness, alphabet learning and more.

As teachers of young children, we spend the first several weeks (months, if you teach in a classroom of very young children) of school working on name recognition – primarily the child’s own first name, their last name, the names of classmates, etc. The opportunities for instruction using names are endless: teachers can lead students in comparing and contrasting names that start with the same letter or count the letters in each child’s first name and graph the numbers on a chart as a math activity, to name two examples.

We should take any and every opportunity to read aloud to our students.  So, to get you started with using names as a teaching tool in your classroom, we have suggested a few of our favorite books that focus on names.  These texts are perfect additions to your lesson plans in the coming weeks and will certainly be student favorites in your classroom library!

  • “A My Name is Alice,” by Jane Bayer
  • “Chrysanthemum,” by Kevin Henkes
  • “The Name Jar,” by Yangsook Choi
  • “Tikki Tikki Tembo,” retold by Arlene Mosel

Authored by Jordan Khadam-Hir, Rice University School Literacy and Culture

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