Your Name is a Song, written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Luisa Uribe, caught my eye months ago as lucky ARC readers shared their love for this beautiful book. When my pre-ordered copy arrived, right on time, I resisted the urge to jump right in, ripping the package open at the mailbox and getting lost in a story on the stoop…a common occurrence. Instead, I tucked the book to the side for a bedtime read with my three daughters. I knew this was a book I wanted to experience with them.
Your Name is a Song begins after the trouble occurs. On the way home from school, a young girl recounts her day and the way her name “got stuck” in her teacher’s mouth and how “during snack, some girls pretended to choke on my name.” Her wise mom spends the entire walk home convincing her daughter that names are songs and by singing her name, she would teach others to sing it too. In the end, the young girl, Kora-Jalimuso, shares her name and her song with her teacher and peers. They all learn to sing their names that hold their stories and their identities.
As I finished reading this story to my daughters, my oldest was naturally drawn to the “Glossary of Names Featured in the Story”. She used the pronunciation guides to practice singing the names that appeared throughout the book. We also read the meaning of each name, which pushed us to think and discuss why the author had chosen these names. By the time we closed the book, the girls were prancing around the room, singing their own names.
Before my oldest daughter even went to kindergarten, my husband had prepared her for people mispronouncing her last name. We also coached her on how she could teach others how to say it correctly. After reading, Your Name is a Song, I asked, “What did this book make you think of?”
“My last name,” my daughter replied before belting out her new name melody.
Our school community has recently been discussing how we can acknowledge and celebrate our students’ unique identities in the classroom. This book is a perfect addition for your beginning of the year bookshelf. The story sets the stage for students celebrating their own names and those in their new classroom community.
Here is a video of Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow correctly pronouncing each name that appears in Your Name is a Song.