What’s in a Name?

As soon as I discovered I was expecting my first child, I ran out and purchased a baby name book.  There were several choices, but of course, I chose the thickest book on the shelf: 35,000+ Baby Names by Bruce Lansky. Why?  Because naming my child was IMPORTANT –and this particular edition claimed to be the largest selection of names from all over the world!

I will note, however, that my husband and I eventually went back to a name we’d agreed upon when we first married.  Still, I wanted to explore all options before deciding for sure.

Names ARE important.  We’re stuck with them for life.  They identify us with families, nationalities, etc.  Oftentimes, we are judged by our written names alone.

That’s why I’ve held on to that baby name book even after all these years.  I’ve used it many times for my fictional characters. 

In fact, my students have found it just as helpful as they birthed their own characters in the classroom.  Literally falling apart, this book has served as one of our best resources in the writer’s toolbox. 

As you begin to get acquainted with a character for your story, take time to think of that perfect name. 

Imagine his parents during the naming ritual.  HOW he was named could tell a lot about his emotional upbringing and relationships with family members.  It could even give clues to why he acts or reacts in certain situations.  The naming ritual alone could be the beginning of a great plot.

Teaching Idea:  Explore names with your students.  Make a chart of each student’s name, meaning, and origin.  Discuss with the students the value in their names, allowing them to share stories of how their parents named them. 

Introduce a book of names to the class for students to use when creating their own characters.  Its pages will be worn by the year’s end.


One response to this post.

  1. Great reminder, Mrs. WS. Thanks. I use online baby name lists. There are tons of them.

    Looking forward to Write2Ignite! in Feb.



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