By Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
(40 pages, children’s fiction, 2020)
Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, is a love letter to every child whose name has ever been mispronounced on the first day of school. When we name our children, we are giving them a gift. A gift that they will hopefully honor and be proud of. It can be so disheartening to a child when their classmates and even their teacher struggle to say their name, especially when everyone else’s comes with such ease. The little girl in the story tells her mother that she will no longer be going back to school because no one could say her name, not even her teacher. The little girl goes on to explain the bullying behavior from her classmates who pretended to choke on her name. Her mother wisely explains that some names do not come from the throat, but from the heart.
Her mother explains to her daughter that every name is a song. Some names contain fire and some are pulled from the sky. Made up names “come from dreamers who create new names when old ones were stolen.” Names have a rhythm and a meaning and every name is a song. She offers her daughter several examples, with phonetic help to help the reader properly pronounce each name. The same care is provided for names such as Ngozi (INN-GO-zee) and Sagnika (sag-NEE-kah) as Benjamin (Ben-juh-men) and Mrs. Anderson (AN-der-son). It is a sign of respect to learn one another’s names and how to pronounce them. The little girl could not wait to return to school to sing her name with pride! This is a wonderful book that shows how powerful inclusion is, simply by saying someone’s name with care and conviction.
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