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Our name is the way that we present ourselves to the world, especially when so much of our communication occurs over email or online. When their name seems long or unique among peers, it can be a challenge for students. Alma and How she Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal, comes to the rescue. Alma’s name is long, “Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela” to be exact, and she wonders why it was chosen for her. Her father describes each family member who contributed their name to Alma’s. It doesn’t take Alma long to realize that she shares characteristics with all of these people. Her name is a perfect representation of who she is. The illustrations in this book further strengthen the connections between Alma and her strong relatives.

This would be a wonderful book to share with students at the beginning of the school year to inspire them to learn more about the history of their own names (writing standard, “gather information from sources to answer a question”). It also opens up opportunities to address the Social Justice Identity Standard: “Students will express pride, confidence, and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.”

 

Introduction

Hello everyone,

My name is Leah Cole and I am a special education teacher in Iowa. I have always been passionate about social justice, children’s books, and education, but I have recently become very interested in doing a better job of joining these passions to make a bigger impact in my classroom. 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 books that teachers can use in their classrooms and develop questions and activities that support the social justice standards.