What’s In a Name?

Many of us know how it feels to have our name pronounced incorrectly. My name is Leah /Lee-uh/. It isn’t pronounced /Lee/ or /Lay-uh/. Most of the time, people get it right the first time and, if they don’t, I am able to correct them. However, there are lots of people who do not hear their names pronounced correctly the first time…or the second time…or the thirty-seventh time. That can become emotionally exhausting, especially if you are a child. However, the reason behind that exhaustion is a positive one. Names are a huge part of our identity. Thao Lam is an author who really gets that. Thank you to NetGalley and Owlkids for the opportunity to review this special book.

In Thao: A Picture Book, the author-illustrator gives us an inside look at what it was like to be a child with a name that was often mispronounced by kids and teachers at school. The book is written very simply, which works to total perfection. It begins with, “It’s not easy being Thao,” on a double page spread with a photo of a very young Lam and cut paper collages of students outside of school. Using these same mediums throughout the story on a plain beige background, Lam’s point comes across very clearly.

There are four letters in her name. They are the same letters that everyone else in her class uses. Why did her name have to be so hard to say? So, one day, she decides to be Jennifer. There is only one problem. Thao isn’t Jennifer. What is she to do?

This is one of my favorite books of the year. It is simple. The artwork and spare text work together splendidly. There is a perfect message to be gleaned. Just marvelous!

Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards:

Identity 1: I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and name some of my group identities.

Published by socialjusticeinchildrenslit

My name is Leah Cole and I was a teacher in Iowa for nine years. My passions for education, social justice, and children's literature led me to create this blog. Students are faced with issues of justice and fairness from the time they are very young. The Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance help teachers to support the development of students who recognize and embrace their own identities while respecting and valuing those who are different. In this blog, I will attempt to identify and review books that support the social justice standards.

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