Tag Archives: names

What’s in a Name?

2 Nov

When I was born, my parents named me Katie. Well, okay, technically  they named me Mary (that’s what’s on my birth certificate) but always intended to call me Katie. That was back in the days when lots of girls were named Mary Chris, Mary Pat, Mary This, Mary That… but weren’t actually called Mary. So, until I was 5, everyone called me Katie.

Then Kindergarten happened. And my 5-year-old self informed the teacher that my name was Mary and I was to be called that. I then proceeded to make everyone else I knew begin calling me Mary instead of Katie. Why did I decide to change my name? I have no idea what was going on in my young brain, but as an adult I’ve speculated that it’s because we’d recently moved to Denver and lived almost next door to a family with two twin girls – one of whom was named Katie. Strangely enough, her real name was also Mary Something.

I’ve been Mary ever since. Kudos to my family for going along with my self-inflicted name change.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because it kind of relates to why one of my katyfavorite books growing up was Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton. Oh, how I loved the story of Katy, the bulldozer/snow plow who did her work in the City of Geopolis and saved the day one particularly snowy winter. I adored the detailed illustrations with maps of the town so that I could follow Katy’s route as she made it safe for the mail carrier to continue his route and the doctor to get his patient to the hospital. But most of all, I loved that Katy and I shared the same name (albeit a slightly different spelling).

lolaFinding yourself (or even just your name) in a children’s book is a powerful thing.  Each year, I am fortunate enough to be able to gift each child whom I visit in my preschool outreach a brand new book. As the kids in one class were making their selections, one young lady saw Anna Quinn’s Lola at the Library. The book features an adorable, smiling African-American child as she makes her regular visit to the library. The young lady pointed at the book, eyes wide, and said “I want THAT one.” What made this encounter so powerful? The girl who chose the book looked EXACTLY like Lola in the story. Right down to the pigtails.

Children need to feel like they are important and have worth, and seeing yourself and your story reflected in a book provides some measure of that. Just as I was proud to share a name with hero snowplow Katy, my young book selector probably was proud to see that she, or a child that looked like her, could be the star of her own story.

What story are YOU the star of? Are there any books that made you think “hey, that’s me!”?

Flannel Friday: Mary Wore Her Red Dress

7 Oct

No, this flannel isn’t all about me.  I don’t actually happen to have a red dress. But maybe I need to get one, for when I sing this song? Because what we’re talking about here is the kids’ song, “Mary Wore Her Red Dress” (<—– listen here). I made this flannel years ago:

Mary wore her red dress,

Red dress, red dress,

Mary wore her red dress,

All day long.

It usually continues with more red clothes, but instead I made clothes of various colors for us to sing about. Pink hat, green shoes, blue pants, etc.:

Red dress, green shoes (I love my clown shoes), purple mittens

After singing the song with the flannel pieces, I ask each child to tell me one article of clothing they are wearing and what color it is, as well as their name. We then sing the verse for them: “David wore his spiderman shoes, spiderman shoes, spiderman shoes, David wore his spiderman shoes, all day long.” Everyone who wants to participate can! Obviously, this isn’t feasible if you’ve got a really large group, but if it’s 15 or fewer, it can work. And be fun!

Pink hat, yellow shirt, blue pants, brown (sparkley) socks

Combine this with a singing of Hap Palmer’s “What Are You Wearing” and books like Margaret Chodos-Irvine’s Ella Sarah Gets Dressed, Jan Brett’s The Mitten and Jonathan London’s Froggy Gets Dressed and you’ve got yourself a mighty fine clothing-themed storytime!

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