Teachers Write 7.13.17 Thursday Quick-Write with Hena Khan

Good morning, writers! Today’s guest author for your Thursday Quick-Write is the brilliant Hena Khan.  Hena is the author of GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS; IT’S RAMADAN, CURIOUS GEORGE; and AMINA’S VOICE.

The Name Game

A friend and I recently overheard a conversation in which a little girl was asking her mother, “but HOW did you KNOW my name BEFORE I WAS BORN?” As we laughed about how cute she was I was reminded that even though a name is something we don’t pick ourselves, it defines us in so many ways.

When I was growing up, my best friend changed her name when we were in elementary school. It left me feeling like I lost a piece of my friend, and that she was deciding to become someone else. I wondered if my own uncommon name was less worthy than I thought it was. And I feared that part of what my friend was choosing to discard, along with her old name, was our relationship.

Maybe because of that experience, the idea of our names and how they shape our identity is something I still think about often. As a kid I often imagined how my life might differ if my name was Melissa, or if I had a really cool nickname (I didn’t). I never changed my name, and kept my last name after marriage. I randomly ask my kids if they like their names, or if they wish they were called something else. And I explore the theme in my newest book, Amina’s Voice, when Amina’s best friend Soojin considers taking a new name, much like my friend did.

Today’s Assignment: Imagine that could go back in time and name yourself before you were born. What name would you choose?

Take a few notes about why you picked that name. Does it have a special meaning? Does it evoke a certain emotion? Can you describe the way it makes you feel—powerful, beautiful, distinguished, quirky, brave, something else? Do you think you would be a different person if you had grown up with that name? Who would you be?

Now, write yourself a short 4-5 line bio—the fun and lighthearted kind that highlights your personality and personal achievements, not a professional bio—using your imagined name. If you think you’d be exactly the same person you are today no matter what your name was, that’s great too! And I’d love to read your name choices and bios in the comments section below.

Happy writing!

214 Replies on “Teachers Write 7.13.17 Thursday Quick-Write with Hena Khan

  1. At the beginning of each school year stydents do a writing activity where they explore the origins of their own name. They ask their parents why they selected the name, and they research the meanings of their name. One of my students was told that his name, Sourojit, means “Protector of the universe.”

    While I have always loved my own first name, if I could switch names, I would choose Sourojit, because at my core, I wish to help and protect others.

    Now having a name that indicates a protector might seem a little odd, because the enormity of societal needs can be overwhelming. For every one person I may be fortunate to help in some small way, I’m aware of the masses that I have no impact on, which can make any contributions feel insignificant. So maybe I’m not really a protector of the universe, but instead an occasional protector of a few lovely souls. I’ll take that. Because when my little dash on life here is over, I hope to have made an impact, and left some little remnant that improved life for others, just as so many people have done for me. That would make wearing this name a true honor.

    1. Greg, when I was teaching third grade I did an name research project with my kids. One of my students that year was Funke (fuhn-kay) from Africa. I loved her name but she wanted people to call her Melissa because she hated her name. People in America pronounced it “Funky” and made fun of her name. This saddened me so much. When we did the research, she discovered she was named for an African Queen. She came to love her name and feel honored that year.
      I love that you would like to be known as protector of the universe.

    2. I imagine that even though your name is not Sourojit, you are still living up to the bio you predict that name might give you. I love that you chose a former student’s name as your inspiration!

      1. Absolutely! What a beautiful story to share and name to aspire to! I’m certain that you are living up to the bio too. And I agree that knowing the meaning or history behind a name is so powerful! Thanks for sharing.

    3. I love and admire your reasons for choosing this name, Greg. It speaks to who you are as a teacher and as a person. I’d have wanted to be in your class when I was young. The protectors are often whom we need the most, even if we don’t know that we do.

    4. Wow, Greg, that is one powerful bio! I love the line – “For every one person I may be fortunate to help in some small way, I’m aware of the masses that I have no impact on, which can make any contributions feel insignificant.” You have a WONDERFUL way with words. As I read the last sentence, I wanted more – I was hooked. Well done!

      Also, I love the writing activity. At the beginning of the school year, I am constantly trying to get the students to find their identity. This is very difficult for a sixth grader, but if they find their identity, it will be easier for them to find their writing voice. The ones that are confident in their skin become amazing writers by June.:)

      Thank you for sharing the activity and your bio. I always enjoy reading your writing.
      Happy writing!

  2. What a great assignment. I spend a huge amount of time working on the names for my characters because a name does cast so much on character, at least in writing. I would have chosen the name Jenny. To me Martha, I was named after me grandmother, is an old name and Jenny is bright and airy. Interesting though, that while I chose this name as what I wanted, I’ve never used it for a character in my novels.

    1. I love the name Jenny too. It reminds me of a poem my father used to quote, “Jenny Kissed Me” (can’t remember the author. I agree with your description of it as “bright and airy.” I think Jenny is an interesting name because it feels both classic and somewhat old-fashioned (in a good way) and yet also fun-loving and forever young.

      1. Isn’t it funny how we associate names with generations and how those ideas can be flipped? My generation of Pakistani Americans are generally avoiding names that we associate with our parents’ and going for more airy or easy to pronounce names. But when someone does choose a “classic” name for a little one it just reorients in the brain.

    2. Maggie, I spent my early childhood going around saying “DON’T call me Jenny!” I was determined to change my name (Jennifer was too long, but I didn’t like Jenny, either). Love that it’s a name that you wanted…

    3. I also put lots of thought into character names, Martha! It’s amazing how a name can conjure up characteristics even before you define any for your readers!

  3. I love this idea. In my first novel, I used the name Blessen for the main character. I borrowed it from a student. She told me that she was named for the Bible where Abraham is told he will be a blessing. “My mother changed the spelling to make me special.”

    In my study of ancestors, I found a great name “Jemima Fullilove.” Isn’t that wonderful? I’ve always loved old names. I was named Margaret for my maternal grandmother who died 3 months before I was born. I’ve always felt she was my guardian angel. I would not ever want to change this. I passed her name on to my oldest daughter but shortened it to Maggie. She loves it, too.

    When a name has a personal history or story attached to it, we can hold onto that story and keep it as our own. In one of my WIPs, the character struggles with the plainness of her name. This exercise makes me want to explore more about her feelings and bring that to a resolution in the end. Thanks.

    1. Thank you for sharing this! My mother told me she named me after an older girl in her school that she admired. I liked that, but love the history and tradition behind many family names.

    2. I love when names come from family names. Lately I’ve been coming across many girls who were given their mother’s maiden name as their first name, Cassidy and Hadley were two. Personally, I like keeping names of lost family members alive in new life. Most of the girls in my family have the middle name Rose after my grandmother. And the boys all have a form of Robert after my father. In my writing, I have not been holding to this idea, which is something to look into further.

  4. Names are how we are known to the world. You are right – they are so important. I always pay attention to naming characters and bestowing titles on my mss. Great exercise and I am going to check out your MG. TY, Hena. BTW, I love your name.

  5. My parents decided to let my sister name me and so I was one of many Jennifers growing up, in the 1980s. I love my sister, and I love the name she gave me. However, my father wanted to name me Penelope, and I have secretly wondered what it would be like to live Penelope’s life:

    Penelope’s Twitter Bio:

    “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve”. Muhammad Ali Jinnah these are that shape Penelope Hayhurst’s life. She is a native New Yorker, educator, and wife. She is known to all for her devotion in all aspects of her life. She is new to the world of writing and has in recently, gained some notoriety for her original trickster tales. Tweets from Penelope are signed -P

    1. I love that your sister named you. We tried to let me older daughter name my youngest and she chose “Carrot” and she was serious. It just didn’t work out, so we chose.
      Penelope is such a fun name to say. Is your bio based on the real you or did you make a whole new persona for that name?

      1. Carrot is a hilarious name. We did the same thing with my son. He wanted to name his sibling Jackson (which is his name), Toolbox, or Squirrel. We didn’t find out her gender until birth, so when we found out she was a girl, we went with Aubrey. Though I do sometimes call her Squirrel.

      2. I think “Carrot” and “Squirrel” is hilarious! Actually, sounds like a kids series to me, the Misadventures of Carrot & Squirrel. My bio for Penelope is partly based on me, and the origin of the name – wife to Odysseus. My father loved Greek mythology. I

    2. I love that your sister named you and that your father let her choose! But the bio is fantastic and intriguing. Thanks for writing and sharing it.

    3. My sister’s named me as well, I always found it funny that my parents have them this. I find it endearing and often wonder what they would have done if they were opposed to their choice. How would they have convinced them to go in another direction.

      1. Isn’t it funny that we would find this connection here? I wonder how many other people can say that a sibling named them? Annie, that’s a lovely name, your sister did a good job 🙂

  6. Amina’s Voice looks like a great read-I read the preview on Amazon! I’m glad you didn’t change your name, Hena…it’s beautiful! I’ve had a variety of beautiful cultures and names in my classroom. It can be a challenge to figure out the pronunciations, but students are always willing to teach. As for me…
    I’m Kim. Only Kim. I wasn’t born Kimberly, but I went through childhood with the same question: “Is your real name Kimberly?” I never thought of changing my name, but my name has changed without any prompting from me. As a little girl, I was named “Kimmy Good Girl” by my 3 older sisters who used that name when they wanted something…“Kimmy Good Girl, go ask mama if we can have a popsicle.” My neighbor “Mom” called me “Kimothy”…. “Hey, Kimothy, go ask your mother if she wants to come over for a coffee.” And then I was named “Kim Fart Corro” when I won a contest in a tent! In my “grown up” years, I was named “Mom” and “Mum”, one of my favorites. Then I went on to become “Ms. O.” in my classroom and recently…the name that melts my heart… “Mammie”. The name she gave me when she was 13 months old, while trotting around her house on my back. She yelled, “Go, Mammie!” and the name stuck. So sometimes in life, we don’t have to change our names at all-they naturally change as we go through phases in our lives.

    1. I love the way you said that students’ names from different cultures are different and though the pronunciations may be difficult, the students are willing to teach. I’m the school librarian and so I consider all 1,000 of our students “mine.” Sadly, it’s not possible for me to learn everyone’s name, but I do try to learn as many as I can. Last year, I had a student named Chibuike. He had to repeat his name, listen to me pronounce it, correct me, and do it again about four times before I got it right. It really isn’t that hard, but for some reason I was struggling. Anyway, the upside is, I NEVER forgot his name the rest of the year (and if he’s back this fall, I’ll still know it).

    2. Hi Kim,
      I also love how you took a look at the names others give us and call us. Hope you are having tons of fun with your granddaughter!

    3. The tent story made me laugh too! I love your perspective on the names we are given. It makes me thing of various nicknames I’ve had over the year, special because they are tied to place or a person or a time. My father called me “cookie” as a term of endearment and I miss hearing it. That is something I also included in Amina’s Voice–her father’s sweet name for her. And my father is the one who I consulted when choosing it before he passed so it is extra special to me.

    4. Kim, I love this, how true it is that our names always change. When I reflect upon this I think about all the times my name has changed. Thank you!

  7. Interesting thing about names. My name is Melissa and to all my closest friends and relatives I was always Missy. In school, growing up, I had a best friend who was also Melissa. To many of our group of friends, they called her Missy and me, Melissa. She has always called me Missy, and I call her the same. It seems that somehow we understand the affection and person Missy is and how she is different from Melissa. When I met my husband, years ago, he wanted me to be Melissa to everyone. He thought Missy was too young. It hurt, but I never told him. It seems now that I have been Melissa for my entire adult life, but only on the outside. Melissa is a persona I put on when needed, but Missy is who I am, inside. And I miss hearing it.
    If I were to change my name, I would want a name that could not be altered. My grandmother’s name was Jennie. Not Jennifer, or Jane, but Jennie. She was born in the 1890’s, fresh off the boat from England. The story was that her mother was pregnant with her on the way over, so she was the first sibling to be born in the U.S. There was speculation about her name since birth certificates were rare, but the baptismal certificate stated Jennie. She occasionally used Jane, and did not seem to have a problem with the change. I’m not sure I ever saw her sign her name officially. I think that would like to be Jennie. It sounds pure and simple, fresh and ebullient. I had no daughters, but named my boys with names that would not be changed in spelling or sound so much when shortened.
    Names can be a burden or a blessing. So glad that I’m reading posts where people have helped children understand and appreciate their names!

    1. Missy-that makes me sad that your husband thought your name was “too young” and your identity is trapped inside you. I’m kind of a rebel and I’d just bring that name right out in the open. I wonder how it might change the person you are today!

    2. I too go by my nickname (Maggie) but am “officially” Margaret. It is somewhat annoying, as I’ve never been called Margaret in my life, although I use that name on official documents. I always had to correct teachers the first day of school. My second daughter is Sophie, and I specifically chose NOT to “officially” name her Sophia so she wouldn’t have to deal with the same thing!

      I can only imagine how weird it would be to suddenly transform from Maggie to Margaret. I would definitely not feel like myself!

    3. I just wrote that I miss hearing my dad’s nickname for me! It’s so touching to think about what you are saying about a name that can’t be altered or shortened and hadn’t thought about that before. Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. I have many names. My “proper” name is Margaret. My nickname and my initials are Meg- Margaret Elizabeth Geary. When I went to middle school I told friends and teachers my name was Margaret. That was short lived. Family nicknames include Maggot (from my oldest brother), Mick and Micky and Meggy.

    Ava is a name I would choose. Research says that the word may be from the Latin “avis,” meaning “bird.” It could also be a short form of the name Chava (“life” or “living one”). To me it is a stately name.

    It is a name that would give me confidence. More of a take charge personality with grace. I am short, but I feel the name Ava is for someone who presents as being tall, almost statuesque.

    1. Margaret or Meg, I think it’s really cool that your nickname and your initials are the same (that would be a nice detail for a story character!). I really love what you said about the name Ava. I think you should put “Ava” in a story!

    2. Aren’t the nicknames we get from siblings the best? I love the name Meg because of my love for Little Women. And maybe because of that character I associate it with grace! But Ava is lovely too.

  9. Although it took many years to arrive at this point, I like the person I am today. I spent the first 30+ years of my life feeling like an insignificant speck of existence, and my name, plain G-A-I-L, matched my perceived persona. In middle school, I wanted to change my name to Abigail. Abigail felt special–the way I wanted to feel. Today, I am happy to be a “Gail” because it’s not a very common name. I would, however, like to change the spelling to G-A-Y-L-E. I think this spelling has a little more flair. I like flair.

    My GAYLE bio:
    After a short career in software marketing and sales, and a 20-year stint raising three children, Gayle returned to school at the young age of 47 to obtain her Master of Art in Teaching degree. Gayle is preparing to launch her third year of teaching with an enthusiastic desire to help her students find their “inner writer.” Not afraid to take on new challenges, Gayle has immersed herself in books, workshops, blogs, and Twitter chats to find and nurture her own writing voice.

    An abundance of gratitude to all of the authors sharing their time and wisdom!

    1. I love it! I have always loved the name Gail and am so happy to hear that you are happy with where you are. We don’t hear that enough! Yay! And I love the bio.

  10. I like my name. When I was born, my parents thought it was unique, but I have at times met other Andrea’s (one year there were three staff members out of 15 named Andrea!) I remember being a little annoyed in grade 6 when the other Andrea in my class got to be called “Andrea” while I had to be “Andrea N.” No one suggested one of us go by Andi, even though that’s what my family calls me. My grandfather called me “Andi Lou” (my middle name is Louise). Since it’s too hard for me to think about changing my own name, I did some writing from the perspective of my character and what she thinks of her name:

    I don’t know why my parents called me Ayla. Teachers never know how to say it. And it makes kids think I’m weird. They call me Eyelashes. Then they stare at my eyelashes and Mom won’t even let me wear mascara. If I was going to pick another name, I’d pick something simple, like Sarah. I looked up that name and it means “princess”. That’s way more special than “oak tree”, but a secret kind of special that most people won’t see. Not the weird kind of special that hits them in the face the first time you’re introduced.

  11. My name is Lindy, just Lindy, not Lindsey, or Linda, just Lindy what you see is what you get. My name certainly defines me and is statement of who I am at the core. Before I was born, my mom picked out Hilary. When I was officially born, and she held me in her arms she changed it to Lindy. She always told me that she felt strongly about changing it, she didn’t know why, something was telling her that my name should be Lindy. I like to think that I was telling her to change it. I already knew who I was going to be! When I was around 8 or 9, I wanted to change my name to Missy. To be honest I have no idea why. It was probably because I thought my name was too different and it made me stand out when I wanted to blend.
    As I grew older, I knew there was no way I wanted to “blend” and my name helped me feel unique and interesting.

    Bio: A summer long camping trip in a VW bus across the US, a chance to pace an ultra marathon runner on a 100K journey through the woods, and to top it off more book suggestions than you can keep up with if you hang out with me, Lindy Lorenz, over the summer!
    Who wouldn’t want to run 20 grueling miles through the woods, or share a camper van with 4 other people? Come on over and hang with me. It’s my goal in the summer to read, write, adventure and run as much as I can over a short period of time. My name says it all: quirky, fun, adventurous, focused, driven, unique-just Lindy.

  12. I’m going to do this exercise and post again later–but I want to say that I just LOVE this exercise! As a little girl, although I have always been fond of my name (Maggie), I went through many phases where I had various “favorite” names I wished were mine. Perhaps thinking about names a lot is a common pastime of children who grow up to enjoy reading and writing! In any case, my favorite name for many years was “Brenda” . . . which seems funny now, because today, “Brenda” strikes me as a not-unpleasant, but rather unremarkable moniker. Interestingly, though, it has turned out that there are a ridiculous number of important “Brendas” in my life, well out of proportion to the popularity of the name. One of them is one of my very dearest friends. Another is the teacher who was assigned as my first mentor at school; we are still close. A third was my daughters’ head swimming coach for 13 years (so I heard Brenda this; Brenda that, for eons). Anyway. I loved Amina’s Voice and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of reading it, and look forward to working on the prompt later today!

  13. My name came from my dad. He wanted to name me Melissa so that he could shorten it to Mel. When I started swimming, Mel was too long to shout between breaths so now it’s just M. My sisters call me Missa. I like all of them.

    However, if I could choose my name it would be Harley. Not just because I’m obsessed with comic books and superheroes either. I think it’s adorable and cool. Harley would be a woman in a male dominated career path and rock it. She would wear lace on her lab coat, do her makeup daily, and listen to classic rock when she works out. Harley is an extroverted introvert. She’s invited to parties she doesn’t go to often, and usually not if one of her few best friends wasn’t going. Harley has a golden lab that she takes to the dog park. She also cooks (I don’t haha)

    I still wouldn’t trade my life for Harley’s, but I love how just giving a name to a character starts to develop the character’s traits in your mind.

    Thank you!

  14. The original spelling of my name is “Lori” with 4 letters, just like my identical twin sister’s name, Lisa. When I was a precocious six years old, I added an “e” to make my name “Lorie,” and it stuck. I think I was feeling the need to be different, since a lot of people were so focused on our similarities, a natural reaction when you meet identical twins.

    If I were to change my name today, I’d make it “Cassandra.” It’s lyrical, classical, and would be hard for anyone to find an alliterative companion name with 9 letters! I wouldn’t mind people shortening it to “Cassie.” It’s meaning, however (it’s Greek for “one who helps mankind”) is what draws me to it the most.

    Cassandra Barber, born and raised in Chicago, received her bachelors degree in speech communication and her masters degrees in education. She has found her calling, teaching for more than 7 years. Her passion is helping students learn how to be empathic human beings, and she uses literature – novels and picture books – to drive her teaching. Cassandra tries to live Gandhi’s words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    1. I love it! Cassandra is gorgeous and a random fact, the name of DC Comics WonderGirl character too. Thanks for sharing. I love Lorie too though, and the fact that you personalized it.

  15. I am Libby, just Libby, not Elizabeth. But originally I was Libbie. My dad would only go with the name if they changed the spelling. You see, Libby was my mother’s maiden name. I took things into my own hands in the third grade when the boy I loved spelled his name S-H-A-U-N. Five letters. I had to turn L-I-B-B-I-E to L-I-B-B-Y in order for our grid paper graffiti to work out just right. Been Libby ever since.

    1. This is great! I mean writing your name in paper graffiti is a serious motive to change your spelling in third grade. 🙂 Fantastic!

  16. In reality, I was named after Wendy in Peter Pan and my middle name is after the daughter of a friend of my parents. They wanted to name me Amy Sue, but my last name was Schwartz and then my initials would have been a curse word. I’m glad they didn’t name me Amy!

    I’ve actually thought about changing my name but I know I won’t. Maybe my middle name though. If I could go back in time, my name would have been Grace Nicole. Grace was my grandmother’s name and she was wonderful. I just love the name Nicole. As a child, I would have been called Gracie so as not to be confused with my grandma. As an adult, I would be Grace. The name makes me smile and fills me with warmth. It makes me feel powerful and capable of doing anything.

    My Grace bio is a combination of who I am, who my grandma was, and who I want to be: I am full of energy and not afraid to try anything. I read, write, cook, backpack (with no injuries or pain), and love all those around me. My faith in God is evident to people I meet. I find great deals at second hand stores. I don’t procrastinate and am able to keep up with the tasks of daily life without being bogged down in them. I welcome others into my home with coffee, homemade cinnamon rolls, and smiles.

    1. I love that you have a literary name. Grace sounds amazing and I imagine you are already all of those things that honor your grandma!

    2. Great job, Wendy!

      My third daughter is named Avery and we had to be very careful with her middle name because of our last name. Her middle name is Grace.:)

      Your bio is awesome. My two favorite lines: ” I find great deals at second hand stores.” and “I welcome others into my home with coffee, homemade cinnamon rolls, and smiles.” You have a nice (eloquent) way with words. The bio really flowed and the last sentence wrapped it up nicely.

      Thanks for sharing. Happy writing!

  17. My Mom named me Heather because she liked the name of a friend’s older sister. My Grandma (my Dad’s mom) did not like my name, so for about a year she called me Holly. As you can imagine this cause a lot of animosity and hurt feelings that lasted for a long time in our family. I remember feeling this animosity throughout my life.

    If I could go back in time, I would want my name to serve as a reminder that we need to have compassion for everyone. I chose the name Anina. The name is of Danish origin meaning compassion, grace; prayers.

    I feel we live in a time where compassion is needed now more than ever. Anina’s bio:

    Anina Jensen, 5th grade teacher, strives to build compassion and empathy in her students by sharing the power of story. Anina searches for picture books, poems, and chapter books that encourages her students to better understand those who are different from them. When we understand one another and can have a face with a name it is easier to choose kind. Anina is currently working with the #choosekind foundation to make the world a better place. Anina has two wonderful Shih Tzus.

    1. Awesome bio, Anina (oops, I mean Heather)!

      “I feel we live in a time where compassion is needed now more than ever.” – I love this line because it is SO TRUE. Your bio is magnificent – it contains vivid description, emotion, and strong details – a wonderful writing voice. The last sentence was my favorite – Anina seems like someone who has two Shih Tzus.:)

      Thank you for sharing. Keep writing, and I’ll keep reading.

  18. This was very challenging. Thanks for pushing me to think deeply and differently about writing this morning.

    I thought of another name I’ve always liked this morning. I even researched names. Would a different name have made me different? Maybe, maybe not. My given name is very traditional, Janet Susanne. I guess my name is a match for me. It seems a bit reserved, which I am, yet it is strong enough to bring out the more exciting side of me. I don’t think I’ve lived up to it fully yet… being bold, finding adventure in most any moment, and being a risk taker can be a stretch for me, but I’ll keep trying.

    Below, I used my real name and have made up a bio with some truth and some fiction. Hopefully, you cannot tell the difference.

    Janet is known for her bold approach to life leaving no room for doldrums. Her travels to diverse places, from hiking in the White Mountains to dipping in the geothermal pools of Iceland demonstrates she is always up for new adventures. Her zest for life shows not only when traveling, Janet finds all kinds of experiences thrilling as mother, wife, and writer. With her family, she is instilling her own enthusiasm whether in the backyard exploring ants traveling through grass jungles, taste testing hot salsas at taqeurias, or voyaging into paintings at art museums on weekends. As writer, she extends her personality to her readers through her characters setting out on quests with unexpected surprises around every corner. Janet’s life is full and hanging out with her is never boring.

    1. I love your traditional name. I think sometimes traditional names get short shrift … but I love the history they have, and all that they evoke. So much to find within them!

      It’s also interesting to consider that a name that feels traditional and ordinary in one culture may seem unusual and fascinating to another!

    2. My favorite line is “With her family, she is instilling her own enthusiasm whether in the backyard exploring ants traveling through grass jungles, taste testing hot salsas at taqeurias, or voyaging into paintings at art museums on weekends.” If even half of this is true, you are a true risk-taking adventurer.:)

      I’m not sure if it is true, but I, too, have hiked the White Mountains. They are so beautiful. On my way home from the hiking trip in New Hampshire, we hiked Mount Marcy (tallest in New York). The coolest ten days of hiking ever.

      Happy writing, Janet! Thank you for sharing your bio.

      1. Thanks for you comments and feedback. We are increasingly hiking more with our family. It is such joy to be out in nature and away from screens and the classroom. Haven’t gone for 10 days yet. Wow!

      1. Thanks for reading it. I look forward to stretching my writing. This one was a challenge.

    3. Janet, I cannot tell what is true and what is fiction. I adore this line, “With her family, she is instilling her own enthusiasm whether in the backyard exploring ants traveling through grass jungles, taste testing hot salsas at taqeurias, or voyaging into paintings at art museums on weekends.” For a moment I thought you were writing about me 😉
      Thank you for sharing!

      1. I appreciate your thoughts. We are heading out tomorrow on our road trip from MA down through NY, … to Asheville, NC, over to KY/TN/GA/FL and then back home over 3 1/2 weeks. Adventure is on my mind, Disney not included. We take back roads and avoid chain restaurants… local all the way. Barbecue and biscuits will be highlights for the kids. There must be some writing material in the trip somewhere, right?

  19. Super hot day here in South Jersey, so I’m off to the library to look for your books. Here’s my bio, thanks for bringing the brave out in me…..

    Humility Morrison is a self proclaimed late bloomer who has learned from every blossom and wilt she’s faced. The Sagittarius and youngest child combo has contributed to making her witty, outspoken, and kind, but she’s had to fight believing the selfish description her siblings often used to label her during the teenage years. Humility has always felt special inside, like her heart beats just a little louder and feels a little sadder than most. She lives a conflicted life which wakes her up at night because It’s hard to feel special and remain humble.

    1. Love the name and the bio! From a fellow sag (but an oldest, bossy sister — so there’s that : )

    2. Great job, Humility (oops, I mean Maureen)!

      It seems like Humility has some internal conflict, but she also sounds strong because of the will to be who she is (this will serve her well in the future). Your description of Humility is so vivid and easy to visualize. She reminds me of Summer from Wonder.

      Thanks for sharing. Honestly, Maureen Morrison has a nice flow to it.:) Happy writing!

      1. Thank you. I had a rough friendship day today, and I ended up being humbled. Your kind words made me feel better.

  20. The name game – something I’ve struggled with my whole life. My “big” name is Aurelia, but it was shortened by my siblings to Ree when I was born. When I was growing up, the first day of school always brought embarrassment. I would tense in anticipation when roll was taken as I knew the teacher would pause, struggle, and then eventually attempt a pronunciation of Aurelia. They wouldn’t get it close and some would even comment on how odd it was, so I’d jump in immediately and tell her it was just Ree, and she would (usually) sigh in relief. In fourth grade I changed Ree to Re so that I would have the shortest name in school (darn you Ed!), but my dad held on to Ree until he died ten years ago. 🙂

    In a name redo, I would still choose Aurelia, but this time I would use it for everyday instead of just official occasions. Aurelia is an executive producer of documentaries highlighting important social issues in today’s world. She uses this platform to help others and bring attention to those without a voice and when she isn’t traveling, she lives on a small farm in Vermont where she is learning to make cheese.

    1. Aurelia is a beautiful name for a documentarian, a cheesemaker — or even a teacher!!

    2. Your bio made me laugh, Aurelia. I hope you make some pepper jack.

      I can relate to your first day of school experience. Having a unique name has made me sensitive to others with different names, especially my students. I still cringe when I hear adults comment on kids names. “Oh, that’s a different name” isn’t nearly as kind of a thing to say as most people think.

      1. Great story and bio! Thanks for sharing! And it is a lovely name in all forms. I totally agree Nels about the adult comments. It’s usually well intentioned but doesn’t help!

        1. Thank you Hena for your comment and this writing prompt. I’ve been debating on whether I should go back to Ree since it is easier to recognize the pronunciation than Re, but I hate to change my tiny syllable of a name. 😉

    3. As teachers, we welcome many children with unique and beautiful names into our diverse classrooms. I love working hard to learn the correct pronunciations of their names, so the children feel honored and proud of their heritage, and safe to be authentic and unique in our classroom community. That said, the name Aurelia is adorable. And golden. It conveys a radiant quality, spreading light and majesty in its’ wake.

      While not a cheese lover, I would thoroughly enjoy following your social justice documentaries, no doubt inspired by the causes you illuminate in your work.

      Great writing!

      1. On the first day of school, I’m like you Greg and take so many notes on pronunciation because names should be said properly.

    4. Honestly, I think the name Re is very pretty, but Aurelia is also unique and beautiful. I love that Aurelia is taking on the issues of the world while residing on a small farm in Vermont.:) She sounds as confident and special as her name.

      Keep on writing!

    5. Aurelia is a gorgeous name! I do love Ree and Re, it sounds happy. On the flip side of the first day of school, I’m terrified I’m going to pronounce a student name incorrectly. If I am too worried, I ask the students to all introduce themselves with their formal name first and then tell us a nickname they prefer. I frantically make phonetic notes for myself.
      Thank you for sharing!

  21. My dad found my name, Julie, in a baby book and liked it, so they chose a middle name to go with it. When I was little, I thought my name was weird and wanted to change it. Now, I embrace both the name and the random method of choosing it. It seems slightly different, classic, young–all things I wish for myself. I love names that seem inevitable or that sound like music when you say them. When I choose character names in this way, I often discover that their meanings illustrate the characters’ personalities.

    1. “When I choose character names in this way, I often discover that their meanings illustrate the characters’ personalities.” – I AGREE 100%. The characters’ names take on their own personalities. My two favorite characters are named Stevie and Sammy. I’ve had a Stevie and Sammy in class, but they are nothing like the characters in my stories.

      Thanks for sharing. Happy writing, Julie!

  22. Hana, I LOVE your books- both are in my classroom in Malaysia!
    My parents named my sister and me names they thought would not have nicknames, so of course, I longed for a name I could nickname. I wrote a lot as a child and had a baby name book that I consulted when naming characters. I decided that I would want to be Elizabeth Anne because I could have so many different nicknames. I never really liked my middle name, so when I married I made my maiden name my middle name and when I divorced I kept it that way.
    At my school, many of the Korean and Chinese students use “English” names yet I encourage them to use their given names. Names are something I think about a lot.

    1. Erika,
      I also taught in Malaysia and then in Indonesia. It is interesting how some students use “English” names while others stick with their name. Also, I think it is interesting how they do their names with bin or binti to show their father. In Indonesia I had some coworkers who just have a first name. It was always a challenge to figure out how to do their names in the boxes when we did the exams at the end of the year since they were done in the American way.

    2. My daughter is Elizabeth Ann. We picked that name because it sounds powerful and authoritarian. Unlike your choice, she does not have a nickname. We insisted that she be called Elizabeth, and at age 17, she demands that as well.

    3. Thanks for sharing, Erika.

      Erika and Elizabeth Anne are both powerful names. It is interesting how many nicknames can come from Elizabeth Anne (Liz, Lizzy, Bess, Beth, and there are probably more than I’m forgetting). Whenever I have an Elizabeth in class, I always ask her if she has a nickname. The last three all wanted to be called Elizabeth.:)

      You can experiment with a bunch of different names in your writing.
      Happy writing!

    4. Thank you so much! I’m so glad to hear my books are all the way in Malaysia! 🙂 I’m intrigued by the English and Korean or Chinese names and that’s why I explore that theme in Amina’s Voice with her Korean friend. I’d love to hear what you think!

  23. I am Melissa. I guess I should’ve known there were so many of us when I was little and on a soccer team with two other Melissas. My dad was the coach, so he allowed the others to choose their nicknames first. He was all about fairness. I was to receive no special treatment because my parent was my coach. So one of them became Missy, the other stayed Melissa, and my dad nicknamed me Meli. Which quickly became Smelly Meli.

    I was named after my mom’s sister who passed in childhood. And I was always honored by that. Her name was Diane Elise. Melissa has Elise in it and my middle name is Diane.

    As I got older, people confused my name with Michelle. I had some friends and teammates named Michelle, but also some mortal enemies (you know how it is when you’re young and everything is drama). So I didn’t enjoy the mistaken identity.

    Since I got married, my husband and I fell in love with the name Elise, me because of the aunt I never knew and he because of The Cure song “Letter to Elise.” I think I was always supposed to have a name that begins with E. If we had had children, a daughter specifically, she would have been Elise.

    I’m not sure how different my bio would be. I’m pretty sure I’d be more confident younger and maybe a little more wild and carefree, knowing I had the same name as an angel!

  24. When I was a kid, I hated my name. Every time I met someone new I had to answer questions or listen to comments about the spelling and origin of my name. Over time, I learned to love it and now I’ve grown into it and I feel like it’s truly who I am. I wouldn’t trade my name for another.

    That said, my parents had two names picked out for me before I was born. Nels for a boy, and Gretchen for a girl. My uncle was relieved when he found out I was a boy because he thought Gretchen sounded like the noise you make when you throw up (apologies to any Gretchens reading this). To me, though, it sounds powerful, independent, and daring.

    Here’s a bio for my female alter ego, Gretchen Tooker:
    I’m a professional driver working hard to make it in the world of racing. My family fills my tank with love and support. Other passions include sailing and birding. I also really want to try skydiving. Hopeful about next year’s Indy qualifiers. My 4 year old daughter says I can do it and that’s all the encouragement I need.

    1. Well done, Nels!

      It’s really funny that some people aren’t happy with their names, while other people think that names are pretty cool. I like Nels and Gretchen. While my wife and I were choosing names for our four children, it was difficult because of my last name (not much flows with Starowicz).

      You have gone from Nels, the writer, to Gretchen, the professional driver – both professions are pretty glamorous.:) My favorite line is, “My uncle was relieved when he found out I was a boy because he thought Gretchen sounded like the noise you make when you throw up (apologies to any Gretchens reading this).” I smiled when I read it.

      Thank you for sharing. Keep on writing!

    2. I love how you’ve come to embrace your unique name over time. It is a strong name, and invites people to get to know more about you. It is also refreshing that you have chosen to reply to this prompt through a female lens, and such a powerful one at that! Gretchen is indeed a woman of unabashed resolve and tenderness, one that I’d love to read more about!

    3. Haha! I love this. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing. I’m glad that you love your name now and feel that it reflects who you are. Makes me hopeful for other kids who grow up hating their names.

  25. Thank you, Hena, for reminding me of the importance of names because, to quote Kathy Halsey, :They are how we are known in the world.” I just put your book on my list of books to order.

    My mother named me Mona because she hated nicknames and named all my siblings and myself the diminutive version of our name. That meant I was named Mona instead of Monica. This resulted in me always wanting a nickname and wishing, as a young child, that I was named Monica. Being named Monica instead of Mona would have, as a child, resulted in no Mona Lisa jokes and the inability for some boys in the Bronx to make a slightly risque yet nonsensical rhyming sentence with my name at many opportunities. I embrace my name now but if I had too pick another name, I would choose Monica.

    Monica is confident, friendly, entrepenurial yet mysterious. She wears scarves and can tie them in many interesting ways, including using them as artful beach cover-ups. She is always packed and ready to go on an international adventure on a moment’s notice. She speaks fluent French. Everyone thinks they know her but she is, at heart, unknowable.

    1. Great job, Monica (oops, I mean Mona)!

      I love how you explained your reasoning for the name change. I especially like the line – “Being named Monica instead of Mona would have, as a child, resulted in no Mona Lisa jokes and the inability for some boys in the Bronx to make a slightly risque yet nonsensical rhyming sentence with my name at many opportunities.” No more jokes about the French-speaking, scarf wearing, and confident Monica.:)

      Au Revoir! Happy writing!

    2. Hi Mona! Thank you so much! To me, Mona and Monica are both equally glamorous, but I’m guessing the jokes were annoying as a kid. I wish I could wear a scarf elegantly and speak French too!

  26. Good morning, Hena!

    I love your name. It is so cool (not boring at all). I also love this lesson, and I had SO much fun writing my bio this morning.:) As a teacher, it is very difficult for me to pick a name that fits my main character (and supporting characters). Through all of the years of teaching, I have hundreds of names swimming in my head – and each name comes with a personality and story. Thanks again for this activity.

    Here’s my “new” bio:
    I am still befuddled that my parents named me Skipper. Neither of them have ever captained a ship, although, Dad was in the United Stated Navy (still so proud of him). Everyone calls me “Skippy”, which is cool with me. I’ve never missed purchasing a Bomb Pop from the ice cream truck (Skippy: The Ice Cream Truck). Mom is grateful that it had only come down our street a little over a dozen times in my childhood (she claims the family would have gone broke because they knew I LOVED ice cream). The crazy part is that Mom and Dad tell me it’s the skipping that I did when I was little that helped me turn into the runner that I am today. It was so cool when I came across the finish line of my first Ironman triathlon and the announcer declared, “Skipper, You are an Ironman.” I skipped through the line. Of course, I celebrated with an ice cream with my wife, Flynn (her nickname is “Flipper” and yes, she’s a swimmer☺).

    1. Skipper and Flipper – there is a treasure chest worth of stories in there! I love all the little connections to your name, and the joy that resonates in this piece! I look forward to more of your delightful entries!

    2. Thank you so much, Andy! I’m so glad you enjoyed the exercise and LOVE what you wrote. It’s super clever and made me laugh out loud. Happy writing!

  27. Good Morning,

    My parents grew up in the 50s and 60s and were Mary and Joseph. Yes, Joseph married Mary, and that meant that my confirmation camping trip Guess Who Bingo board clue was about my parents and not me. (Who’s parents are Mary and Joseph?). Since there names were common when they were growing up, they decided to name me and my brother less common names–Jennifer and Michael. You can probably guess that the plan backfired. :). My maiden name was Taylor, so there were four Jennifers in kindergarten–Jen, Jenny, Jennifer and Jennifer T. Today, I’m mostly Jen, although what people call me tends to reflect which stage of my life they are from.

    I have two daughters, Cheslea and Katie. Chelsea has an uncommon name for her age group and no nicknames, and Katie is a Katherine, so while her name is not super common, she does meet other Katie’s and can choose her nicknames. She hates Katherine now, though. Naming is really hard!

    But I think that our name/names grow(s) into us or we grow into them as we develop our identities. It’s fun to think of different names and what I might change my name to, but I definitely think of myself as Jen/Jennifer. That’s me!

    1. Funny! Thanks for sharing. And I totally agree about our names growing into us and vice versa. I’m glad you feel comfortable with yours!

  28. Hi Hena! Thanks for this great exercise! First, though, I have to let you know of the impact GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS had in my middle school newcomer EL classroom this past year. I work with several students from Muslim countries (Somalia, Syria, Tajikstan), and their eyes lit up when they saw your beautiful book. I can’t wait to introduce them to Amina’s Voice!!

    I’ve always been obsessed with names. In middle school, I bought a baby name book just to read about them, their origins, their meanings. I wasn’t fond of my own name. There were too many Jennifers. Ironically, my mom had chosen the name at the very start of the boom, thinking it was unique. Jennifer was actually a family name on my dad’s side. His sister Jennifer had died of spina bifida at a young age, and his uncle Jenner was killed as a WWII pilot. From an adult perspective, I’ve grown comfortable with my name and value the family history connected to it.

    I decided to do a twist on the quick-write, writing from the POV of my non-existent daughter. (I’m the mother of 3 boys.) Here it is:

    I am Maren Aurora, the perfect blend, named after family on both sides. Maren is the name of my maternal great-great-grandmother, who immigrated to the U.S. from Norway at the age of six. In the book at Ellis Island, they changed her name to Marion, more American. Aurora is the name of my paternal aunt and great-aunt. The former died of a brain tumor before my papi was even born, while the latter lived into her nineties, making flan and dancing banda to the end. My family calls me Marilola. I eat lefse at Christmas and Takis whenever I have the chance.

      1. This. is. hilarious. I don’t think I’ve heard it before! Thanks for sharing : )

    1. This is beautiful! What a lovely idea. I love the history and am glad you are comfortable with your name now (I am too with mine!). I know people who have named their kids what they think is a unique or uncommon name, only to meet 5 kids with the same name soon after! Maren Aurora sounds fantastic, thanks for sharing. I’m a boy-Mama too!

    2. Oh and thank you so much for sharing that about GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS! That makes me so happy to hear! We are actually finalizing a sequel to it that is called CRESCENT MOONS AND POINTED MINARETS which has more of a global feel. It comes out in the spring and I hope your students will enjoy that one too!

      1. Oh, I can’t wait!! My students will be thrilled to hear that. Their first response after reading GOLDEN DOMES was, “Do you have more Muslim books??”

  29. I was named after my mother’s sister who died at the age of 21 of tuberculosis, Kathleen, and my middle name is after my dad’s sister, Virginia. Growing up I had this long name Kathleen Virginia. What is even stranger is to the next door on my right was a girl named Kathleen my exact age, and to the left was a girl named Kathleen who was older. For some reason, Kathleen my age hated me, and she beat me up in the 2nd grade – literally scratching me, pulling my hair. I came home crying and told my mom that I hated my name. She told me that I could have a nick name; she was so sweet about it when I thought about it later as an adult. It was her sister who died of tuberculosis, but she let me pick. She said, do you want Kathy? No, so what about Kay? and that stuck. What is interesting is that now I have come to love Kathleen, and I use most often when I write, but most everyone calls me Kay. (And Kathleen next door and I became close friends later).

    Kathleen, but mostly known as Mrs. Berry or Mrs. B to her students hopes to always have a fun, comfortable, safe learning environment in her classroom. Who would love to instill the gift of reading to high schoolers who have forgotten or never liked to read, and help students understand that we need good writers for our world. Kay loves to run, but also loves to read nursery rhymes to her grandchildren. She loves to travel with her husband, the outdoors, nature, and God.

    1. What a lovely story! How tender of your mom to invite you to offer a nickname, and a delightful twist that you and Kathleen became best friends. This story is a treasure! Thanks for sharing!

  30. Although I love my name now, when I was younger I wanted to change it to Katie or Sarah, a name that would have a magnet or a keychain at the store. As a quiet person, I love that my name gives me a uniqueness that I sometimes don’t feel that I have. I find it almost empowering, a secret strength my parents gave me, knowing my name might make me feel just a little braver.

    Thank you for the fascinating post – I hadn’t really reflected on this before. I can’t wait to get my hands on Amina’s Voice!

    1. What a great insight, that your name empowers you with a secret strength! By the way, you have a fantastic name! It is unique, and flows well. Thank you for sharing!

  31. When I was young I wanted everyone to call me Suzie so I used that name for this:

    My name is Suzie. Well, it isn’t really Suzie, but that’s what I want you to call me. My mom let my sister name me when I was born (I think that was part of being a “surprise” baby) and she gave me this fancy name that makes people sing a stupid song every time I tell them what it is. So I have decided that everyone should call me Suzie. It is way less complicated. It isn’t short for anything, like I said, less complicated. I like baseball and rollerskating and when I’m at home I like reading. Being Suzie means that my friends Joel and Milo can cheer for me when I am up to bat in baseball. Two syllable names work way better for that. So, yeah, call me Suzie.

    1. I love the desire for a simple two-syllable name, and the practicality of having a name that welcome friends Joel and Milo to cheer you at baseball! This is adorable! Way to go, Susie 😉

  32. Took the point of view of my son for this great assignment:

    Kieran. My name means little, dark one. Supposedly, my parents had a book of Irish names for boys. They kept saying, Love, Michael, Aileen, Liam, and… and filled in a name to hear how it flowed.

    Love, Michael, Aileen, Liam, and Sean? No.

    Love, Michael, Aileen, Liam, and Aiden? Nope.

    Love, Michael, Aileen, Liam, and Rory? Ugh.

    They say Kieran fit the phrase beautifully and kept the pattern with “i” as the second letter.

    I don’t think my parents took into consideration the following things before choosing this name for me:

    First, it’s also a girl’s name. I cannot tell you how many times someone has said “she” before they saw me. Or, they just hear the name “Karen.” Not happy about that.

    Second, I can never find my name on a license plate rack. Ever. Sure, one time when my mom’s friend visited Ireland she took pictures of the town of Kieran and that was cool. But seriously. No pencils ever have Kieran on them.

    Third, little, dark one? Me? Well, maybe it fits a bit, but I would really like to have been a John. Or Jon. Kieran is a bit too unique for me. It draws too much attention to my name and, by association, me.

    John, now there’s a name you could blend in with. In elementary, there would be a John B., a John M., a Johnny, and any time the teacher called on John, one of the others would have surely spoken up.

    So much less pressure being a John than a Kieran.

    1. My son can relate. We named him Eoin, and everyone has the hardest time even trying to pronounce his name. At least if people hear his name (“Owen”) they can repeat it correctly. He’s never complained before. I think it’s time to ask him what he thinks about his name, though. 🙂

      1. When I taught in Malaysia I had a student with the name Eoin. I knew that I would do a terrible job with trying to pronounce everyone’s name, so I had each student introduce themselves and then I wrote it on the role sheet with a way that made sense to me, so that I would remember how to pronounce it correctly.

        1. Melanie, your post reminded me of how one of my colleagues has her students make their own desk tags at the beginning of the year. They personalize them with drawings and words that represent them, but they also add the phonetic pronunciation of their names. I’m going to do this from now on, too!

  33. I was supposed to be named Sara Elizabeth but my paternal grandma didn’t like that name. When I was born my parents named me Melanie from Gone with the Wind. I have always liked my name. Sometimes growing up I would be disappointed that there wouldn’t be personalized items with my name on it, but I still didn’t want to change my name. I disliked having to help the teacher pronounce my name at the beginning of the year, but I always wanted to be Melanie not Mel. When I was in college I had so many people that couldn’t remember that my name was Melanie and not Melissa so I started going by Mel. I didn’t really like it until my best friend and her family started calling me Mel, Mel Mel and Melly. Now I don’t mind nicknames. I rarely ran into another Melanie. Only twice in my life until I moved to Arizona 4 years ago and then there were lots of females with the name Melanie. My last name is also uncommon. I have only ever run into two other people with the last name Shurtz that I didn’t know. One was when I lived in Idaho and last year one was in the town I was living in Arizona. I recently moved though to Utah and it seems that Shurtz might be more common. I have found out there is a Shurtz Lake and Shurtz Canyon. Also, when I was looking up something the other day I typed in Miss Shurtz and another teacher in Utah popped up.

    I actually would keep my name. I have had discussions with friends over the years about what our parents thought about naming us and I have always been glad that I wasn’t named Sara Elizabeth. Another thing I am grateful for is that my parents both have S names and my brother was supposed to be an S name but my paternal grandma didn’t like the name he was supposed to be either, so we didn’t all end up with S names. He is named Cameron, which also was uncommon when we were younger. He was named after a lake in Minnesota.

    I like that my name is unique. I recently got married and for a couple reasons I kept my name. One of them is that my name is unique and if I changed my name it would be more common.

    I was in a poetry class in college and wrote a bio poem in rhyming form. I have done it a few times since then and will change the rest of the poem to reflect what is going on in my life. I even did one for my wedding that I read. I won’t write the whole poem, but they always start with the line. “There once was a girl named Mel” since that is much easier to rhyme than Melanie.

  34. I like my name, Stephanie, but back in the 70s and 80s there weren’t enough boxes for my entire name to fit on the standardized tests we took each year. I always ended up as Hewett Stephan with the little bubbles underneath. (Which evoked reminders of the boy who died between the birth of my sister and me; the boy who was supposed to be named Stephen Edward.)

    All of my writing as a child was done with the pseudonym Theresa Claire (last name varied). I named myself after my mother, the strongest and most admirable woman I knew. A widow at an early age who never wavered in strength nor conviction, who finished graduated school while raising three children who all graduated with honors (and went on to graduate school themselves at some point). She was a college professor and a business owner. Now she is an adventurous world traveler and grandmother. I still want to be like her!

  35. I actually have quite a funny story about this whole name thing. I am the youngest of 3 girls in my family and my dad desperately wanted a boy. When my mom was pregnant with me, everyone was praying I was a boy (last shot kind of thing). My dad worked overseas in the oilfield and he would write letters back home telling my sisters to “pray for a little brother.” They even asked Santa for a brother that Christmas before I was born. My parents had gone as far as to name me Travis Cole with no thought as to what my name would be if all of this hoping and praying didn’t work out.
    Slight twist in the story: when my mother gave birth to me, my dad was overseas. Somehow it was lost in translation when trying to get the message to my dad that I was in here (he was in the middle of the ocean) and he was told that he had a son. Yes, a son. My dad traveled from Iran to Katy, Tx over a two-day period (it happened to be a huge snow and ice storm across the country at the same time) thinking that he was the proud father of a baby boy.
    He arrived home in the middle of the night. My mother was holding me with tears in her eyes and said, “She’s beautiful. You’ll love her.” Well, they kept me. 😉

    So for this assignment, I will write a bio for Travis Cole:

    Hardworker. Doesn’t take anything from anyone. A hard shell to crack, but once you do, you’re in. Doesn’t trust easily, but can be trusted himself. Is a people-reader. Enjoys being social when in a comfortable place. Has pushed limits that have led to good and bad, but learns from mistakes. Since he is the youngest, he is not a good sharer, is considered the “favorite”, and never remembers to bring napkins to the table because someone always remembered that for him growing up. He is a family man, a good friend, his father’s pride and joy.

    Oh look, I just described myself. As my dad says, “Who needs boys? When you have all these girls, the boys come around anyway.”

    1. Wow-we have a similar story. I was the 4th girl and my dad had hoped for a boy as well! My dad was working when mom had me and he called to see “what I was”! When I was 7, I even tried to learn to pee like a boy to please my dad! (Didn’t work). I love that your bio of Travis is actually the strong person you are! I can’t not even imagine your dad’s face/reaction when he realized you were a “she” and not a “he”!

      1. He was shocked to say the least! Haha
        And to this day he says, “I don’t know why everyone made a big deal out of it because I didn’t care either way.” Sure, dad. Haha

        Now he has 3 granddaughters and zero grandsons and he is so proud of all “his girls”!

  36. Great post! I love learning the meaning and story behind names. Names are so much bigger than the person. I’m intrigued when I hear someone say, “He doesn’t act like a Noah (replace with any name).” Names remind us of so much, especially the other people and characters we know with the same name. Think of how students react when you read a text in which a character has the same name as someone in your class. If your students are like mine, they get all giddy and look straight at the (usually embarrassed) student.

    My name is Cara (care-uh, not car-uh). I like my name, but as a child I always wished it lent itself to nickname. I also wished I could find my name on the toothbrushes, barrettes, pencils, etc. for sale in stores, but I liked never being confused with anyone else or having to go by Cara S. in class. I went through the phase of wanting to change my name, but I could never come up with one I actually liked better. I’ve always wondered if I would have a different personality if I had a name that meant “powerful” rather than “dear one.”

    Kallan is a tough negotiator and defender of her beliefs. She is a strong advocate for protecting the environment and speaks on this issue at conferences worldwide. Kallan has published numerous books and articles on the subject. She has biked all of the rail trails in Michigan. Kallan’s next adventure is to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.

  37. I have always loved my full name. Even in adolescence, when everyone I knew wanted to change or tweak their name, I loved mine. In school I went with “Vickey,” but I’ve gravitated back to Victoria over the years. It makes me stand up straighter to be addressed as Victoria. When I’m feeling badass or grumpy, I use a photo of Queen Victoria, looking resolute and holding a scepter, as my Facebook picture. WE ARE NOT AMUSED.

    1. I agree that Victoria exudes confidence and power. I love the part about the photo of Queen Victoria. Your post put a smile on my face – THANK YOU.

      Great job, Victoria! Happy writing!

  38. Jodi. Boy name with a girl spelling. That’s what I’d always been told. It’s a derivative of Judith, which is my mother’s name. I don’t want to be my mother. I love her. I just don’t want to be her. They put a picture of me in the Cheboygan Tribune, winning the regional final softball game to take us to the State Finals. The entire article named Judy, as the pitcher. The pitcher who struck out ten batters. Hit in 3 go-ahead runs and would be the 12-year old to keep your eye on in the next 5 years. I lost myself that day. I knew I needed to stand up for Jodi. Forever. That was the day I decided I wanted to be, Jodi. I wanted to love her more, take care of her completely and turn into the Jodi that everyone else questioned. Boy name, yet a girl. My wife giggles often when people question my name. Her giggle is beautiful and Jodi is all hers.

  39. Like many baby girls born in the 50’s, I was named Deborah after the actress, Deborah Kerr, and called Debbie (like Debbie Reynolds). There were three Debbies in my class in elementary school. In my childhood writings about family adventures and relationships, my heroine was always named Jennifer. She was basically the “me” seen by the outside world. Blonde, freckle-faced tomboy who loved dogs and did well in school, She was happy-go-lucky and usually had a twin brother. (I don’t have a twin) There was always a friend named Heather in my writings. She was the girl I had hiding inside me (I hated it when they used that name for the mean girls’ movie “Heathers”). Heather, to me, is a dreamer, a free and gentle spirit who is loved by everyone. She is a writer and an artist and extremely creative. Her bio would read as follows:
    “Heather Dawn is a gifted writer-illustrator of many award-winning children’s books. Her free and gentle spirit was nurtured by her hippie parents as she was growing up on their farm in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Heather continues to write and draw daily in her studio in a small Canadian town, where she graciously welcomes her many visiting fans. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband and six children, along with their menagerie of pets.”

    1. I’m not a very good student!!!! I just went back and read the guidelines for a fun and light-hearted bio! Oops! I wrote a more professional one, so here goes:
      ” I’m Heather Dawn. Pretty imagery, ay? I think my hippie parents were probably in a flowery field watching the sunrise when I was conceived. I’m a morning person so it makes sense. I love to get out to my studio to work on my writing in the quiet hush of the early morning. I need peacefulness and serenity and I cannot stand conflict of any kind. As much as I love my solitude and “alone” times to be creative, I adore my family of six children, my husband and our many rescue animals. I am fiercely loyal to family and friends and I know that we are always there for each other.

  40. I loved, loved, loved this exercise.

    My parents had chosen Maria, my maternal grandmother’s name, for me when I was born. But when they brought me home from the hospital, my older siblings had another name in mind: Nancy.

    Our names don’t define us. Our circumstances do. I have always been timid, a late bloomer, the last chosen for gym, the quiet one on the playground. Strong Irish names like Siobhan or Mairead intrigued me. But even if I had one of those names, I would still be the same over-analytical, somewhat anxious person I am today.

    Ah, but to step into a different identity—I would become a Mairead if I could. I picture her as a feisty nurse or physical therapist, with dark eyes, pale skin, and freckles, with a dry sense of humor, constantly talking and egging her patients on. She’d play on the nurses’ baseball league in the summer and on a women’s hockey team in the winter. She’d be decisive and a little impatient, never second guessing her decisions or worrying about her children at night.

    There would be no symbolism or hidden meanings in her world, no sub-texts of conversations. Mairead wouldn’t really give a shit about what other people think of her. “This is who I am,” she would say. “Like it or not.”

  41. My name: Ericka. A name not unheard of, but a spelling that never showed up on a mug or bracelet. When I was younger, I loved the kick-ass personality of Jo on Facts of Life, and so I thought it would be cool if I had a boyish nickname too, like Rickie. It never caught on, and personally, I didn’t really care for it myself. However, I grew to love my name and am very fond of my “ck” to the point that it has become part of my identity and I wouldn’t want to change it. But if I had to…
    This of course would take time and some serious thought. But one name that often comes to mind is Wren. A name that looks feminine and yet is unisex, looks great in cursive writing, portrays a strong connection to nature, and has that cool “wr” combo. Wren is a lot like me, but I think is a bit more mysterious, like she has a secret she’s keeping. She’s not loud but is quick-witted, and is often found in a forest, on a mountain top, or on a rock jetty staring out onto the water/sky horizon. She’s smart, humble, and definitely has more cool.

  42. Storytelling has always been a family tradition. Every year on our birthdays, our mom will call each child and tell them their “being born” story. Growing up, we also begged to hear our “naming” story. These stories were pretty short but I can tell you the “naming” story of all my siblings and my mom. This might be why I am fascinated with names. I have devoured every story on this post! Love it!

    When I wrote stories when I was younger, I would list the cast of characters, their names, and a quick bio. I loved the power in naming! Many times I was so distracted with creating characters I would forget to write the story. I recently found out, through the magic of Facebook, that one of my friends from elementary school named her daughter after the name I gave her in one of my stories! In my story my friend’s name was Paige and now her daughter’s middle name is Paige!

    My sister and I always thought that you had to change your name when you grew up. I’m not sure why we thought that. We chose very 80s names – Tiffany and Stephanie – for our names if we were to change them. In my small rural town of 2,00 people I was the only Megan so I really wanted to keep my name. When I moved out and went to college I was shocked to see my name was such an 80s baby cliche too!

    My family also assigns nicknames, a lot of nicknames, to each family member. My nicknames include: Meg, Megs, Maggie May, Megalicious, Mellie, Meglet, Meggers, Megsaronious…the list goes on. I also discovered that some of my closest friends come from families who have lots of random nicknames. Isn’t that funny? As a result, we all endlessly give each other nicknames. I guess I don’t have a preference to my name or nicknames like some folks do. There’s so much love wrapped up in the names people call me that I appreciate them all!

    I wouldn’t change my name so here’s my bio for Paige, based on what I remember that I wrote back then.

    Paige, age 8. She likes to do crafts and she is really good at making friendship bracelets. Paige likes to make up new dances with her best friends. Their favorite is anything by Michael Jackson. Paige has a lot of family members because her parents let anyone move in who doesn’t have a place to stay. Paige calls them all her aunts, except one she just calls Sissy. Paiges favorite color is neon green and she likes cats. Paige is not too popular but she has some close friends.

    1. Megasaurus,
      That is precious that your friend named her daughter’s middle name Paige. I like her sweet bio too. My other favorite part of your writing is all the fun nicknames. I can feel the love! (I know I did too when my family called me Denny.) Good work!

  43. Hi! Thanks for this prompt. It’s actually something I have never thought about. My name is Carol, and I was named after Princess Caroline and Caroline Kennedy, so I guess I have wondered why my mom chose Carol and not Caroline. I think maybe it’s because she was too shocked that I was a girl – the first after four boys, In fact, her sisters all threw a baby shower for her before my birth, and bought pretty baby girl dresses which my mom took back to the store and bought baby boy clothes, so certain I was another boy.

    Anyway, thinking about the idea of changing my name, I would choose Krisanna. I first heard this name when I was pen pals with a couple in the Philippines, and have never heard it since. They had a baby and gave her that name. I love it because it contains my mom’s name “Anna,” who is the strongest, hardest working, most generous person that I know, is always there for her family, and never turns her back on the needy. She is indeed a person that I would be honored to be named after. So here is my bio for Krissana:

    Krissana Royce Owen – Krissana is a literacy teacher who has a passion for exciting children about reading. She has amassed a large collection of children’s literature which she shares with students, and if you are interested in something that she doesn’t have books about, she will buy books with her own money on that topic just for you. Although she never had the privilege of having children of her own, she has eleven nieces and nephews, four (almost five) great nieces, and two great step-granddaughters whom she loves to spoil and pass on her passion for family heritage and traditions. She also considers every student she’s had as her children, and loves keeping in touch with those who have grown and become vital and productive members of society.

  44. Thank you, Hena! I love this assignment, I love hearing about names and why they were chosen.
    When I was younger, I never desired another name. I always enjoyed my name and nickname (Annie). However, I always loved the name Ella. Shortened from Eleanor or Ellen meaning light. Ella means beautiful fairy. When I was younger I adored my Great Aunt Ella who lived with my family. The name Ella seems whimsical to me.

    So very long ago, I wrote this for my great aunt through my five year old eyes.

    “Are you her?” I asked.
    My eyes wide with hope and my feet dangling in space,
    When I realized that you must be her.
    Oh, how I adored you anyway,
    But when I put two and two together I knew I couldn’t be wrong.
    A princess.
    You came from a country far, far away.
    From your stories all I pictured were castles.
    You were beautiful and spoke with a dialect that simply amazed me.
    But it was your name that finalized my decision,
    Who else could be adorned with such a sacred name.
    My idol, my dream…
    My only question, “Can I see your glass slipper?”

    When I was becoming a mom for the first time I wanted to adorn my daughter with the name Ella. I love the meanings. While others long for powerful names I have always leaned towards names with purpose and a creative flare. Ella was becoming more and more popular and I desired my daughter to have something that set her apart. We chose Aniela, having a form of Ella in it. Aniela is Polish and derived from Greek meaning messenger or prophet, angel. No one can pronounce her name, but she is quick to instruct others politely in the proper way to say her name, On-Yel-Ah.

    1. Annie,
      This is lovely. I love your story about Ella. The her glass slipper line is perfectly timed. Thanks for sharing the pronunciation of Aniela’s name too. I didn’t say it properly on the first reading. It’s an even prettier name than I first thought. She might even be called Ella once in a while.

    2. I love the names Annie and Ella. They didn’t flow with my last name, so my wife and I decided on different names (I still got some favorites – Hannah, Avery, and Fiona:).

      I grew up with a friend (Rider) and his sister’s name was Aniela. I have not heard that name in so long. It is a beautiful name.

      Now, for your writing – WOW! I loved the entire passage about your great aunt. There was such vivid description (of who she was) and emotion. What a wonderful role model for you! My FAVORITE lines – “My idol, my dream…
      My only question, “Can I see your glass slipper?” Splendid writing!

      Thank you for sharing. Keep on writing!

      1. Thank you, Andy! I truly believed she was Cinderella 🙂 You and your wife chose beautiful names, too. I just met a little girl Fiona, her mom calls her Ona and I love it. And I’m recently finding people who know the name Aniela, which makes me happy!

    3. My favorite part was

      But it was your name that finalized my decision,
      Who else could be adorned with such a sacred name.
      My idol, my dream…
      My only question, “Can I see your glass slipper?”

      What an amazing end to this description. Beautifully captured. And I love the name Ella!

    4. I love your story and I love the meaning behind your daughter’s name! It is unique and so special! I think it’s also pretty cool that you are able to tell her the meaning behind her name, that makes it even more special! Thanks for sharing.

  45. If I could go back in time and name myself, I would choose Lisa Lorraine. Why? That was the name I was going to be called, but the last minute my mom switched and named me Denise Joanne.

    I was always disappointed that I didn’t get the lilting and lovely name of Lisa Lorraine.

    Lisa meant oath of God.

    I got Denise.

    I was named for a deity, though. Dionysus, god of wine and ritual madness.

    I always wonder what became of Lisa-from-my-mom’s-girl-scout-troop. She was the reason I couldn’t be called Lisa. When my mom was expecting me, she was also putting up with Lisa in her troop. It must have been a stressful nine months, for my mom couldn’t bring herself to give Lisa a namesake.

    I thought of  being Lisa over the years. I even wondered if I would have been a different person–more poetic, more graceful, more musical. (The only problem would have been my good friend Lisa in elementary school. We would have become Lisa S. and Lisa R.)

    Yes, Lisa Lorraine, that’s me for a moment.

    Lisa Lorraine – lithe and lyrical, softball all-star, auntie to her many sweet nephews, confident, singer, poet, and all-around not mean girl.

    1. Awesome post, Lisa (oops, I mean Denise)!

      I can totally relate to your mom’s name change. My wife and I are both teachers, so we struggled with names based on students that we had in past (struggles or successes). In the end, I believe that we came up with some good names, but I am interested in what the kids will think when they are older.:)

      I love how you changed the voice of your writing after the comparison between Lisa and Denise (Denise being a deity – Wow!). I enjoyed the line – “I thought of being Lisa over the years. I even wondered if I would have been a different person–more poetic, more graceful, more musical.” Your writing is very graceful – maybe you are a Lisa.

      Thank you for sharing. Happy writing!

    2. The girl scout story made me laugh. I definitely have some former students who have ensured that I will never give my children their names!

      I love Lisa Lorraine! It is very lyrical and lithe! Give it to a character for sure.

    3. I have to say, I love the name Denise. Every Denise I have met is an amazing person.
      I do love the sound of Lisa Lorraine, I feel like she would be an amazing character.
      I’m so curious to know more about Lisa from the girl scout troop!!

  46. If I could go back in time and change my name, I think I would have to keep my name, Nikki! I like the fact that people always ask me if Nikki is my real name all the time, and I always answer that my given name is Nikki. When my mom was pregnant with me, my dad was serving in the Air Force in Greenland and she was on her own and pregnant. The year before I was born my parents had lost their first child to a whole mess of birth complications and her name was Karey Dean. So, when my mom found out she was pregnant with me, she wanted to pass on a piece of Karey, so she decided right away the new baby’s name would have Dean in it somewhere. This story ends with me being named Nikki Deann because I was a girl, and my mom fell in love with the middle name Deann, and Nikki fit better than Nicole.

    Nikki means victory after the god Nike. I am not particularly sure if I can claim to be super victorious, but I can say that being named Nikki was easy to spell/write as a Kindergartner, and my go to adjective in ice breakers is always nutty, because Nutty Nikki describes me pretty well!

  47. I hated my name when I was younger. Jane sounded so old-fashioned, and Janie, what that just sounded babyish and weak. Of course, I heard all the “Plain Jane”, Tarzan and Jane, and Dick and Jane comments My mother and father took turns naming the 4 of us. Mom named Scott and then it was Dad’s turn. He named my other brother Wayne Roy. Luckily, my aunt said you can’t name a baby that, and she gave him the nickname, Rusty. The name stuck. Mom named my sister, Kim, and then it was Dad’s turn again, Jane Lou. Unfortunately no one gave me a cool nickname.

    Jane just didn’t fit with my persona of a tomboy. I wanted a pretty name, but one I could shorten. Melanie seemed perfect. It was a pretty name, but I could be Mel when I was “holding my own” with the boys. Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin, there was plenty of rough-housing and exploring, and Mel would have fit perfectly.

    Over the years I have come to like my given name though I still hate being called Janie. Here is how I think Mel turned out.

    My name is Melanie Ellis. I own Mel’s detective agency. Or maybe, Mel Ellis, bronco rider in a famous rodeo. Now that I say it, Mel doesn’t go so well with my maiden name. I guess there was a reason I was named Jane.

    1. Jane/Mel, My sister is named Jane, but with good reason. She was given the middle name of a favorite aunt. I always wondered why I wasn’t named after Aunt Dorothy Jane, I think I turned out a lot like her. She never married, and I didn’t until the age of 47, she was a cat lover, me too, and she loved children, me too. My sister has the cat lover part, but she and her husband married right out of college and have no desire to have children. Her children were the Persian cats she used to have and the English bulldogs she now has. I never could understand how she went from one extreme to the other. As for Jane, there’s nothing plain about her. She’s a wonderful sister and friend.

      1. Thanks, Carol. Nice to hear from you. You should have been a Jane. You can be an honorary one.

    2. Good post. I have students research why they were named their names and what their names mean. It’s usually very interesting! 🙂

      My parents named me after my paternal grandmother…but ironically, it was also my mother’s name. Huh. Veronica means “true image” from the woman in the Bible who wiped Jesus’ face and the image of his face appeared on her cloth. I like the idea of being true. 🙂

      I actually like my name, even though people get it mixed up with Victoria. But I also like the name Jane –I love Jane Austin.

      Here’s Jane.

      Jane Katherine (made that up too, love that name too) is a world traveling writer who brings her children on her adventures and works for social justice, adoption and the importance of medical research.

  48. My name, Stephanie Ann, was given because when I was born, my parents weren’t able to name me Stephen! I always joke with my mom and tell her anyone who couldn’t come up with an interesting middle name, used Ann or Beth. I always wanted to be Laura or Anne because of the Little House series or Anne of Green Gables.

    As for my children, they have more interesting name stories. My son was basically conceived on the same day as my husband ‘s cousins learned of their pregnancy. We both wanted the same name – Jacob. After the mother’s mom pushed me into a corner, poking me in the chest with her finger telling me not use that name or I would break the family’s heart, I decided the name Jacob was ugly. Too much drama and negativity. My husband and I couldn’t decide on a name. While walking around Las Vegas on the babymoon, we saw a Nathan Taylor hotdog stand. So, our son’s name is Nathan. Named after a hotdog, not Nathan Hale.

    We told our son he could give our daughter her middle name and he insisted on naming her after a Disney Princess. He begged for Cinderella, but we got him to choose Belle instead. Phew!

    Assignment: Anne is the chattiest girl in all of the school. Eager to make friends and always smiling, she is ready to take on the world. She finds adventure lurking in every corner of her life – sometimes even leading to a bit of trouble. Skipping or running down a country road is where you’ll likely find this energetic young lady.

    1. Nicely done, Stephanie!

      The bio is excellent. It is written in a simplistic manner, but so vivid with detail and voice. Anne should star in a picture book or chapter book – students would adore her. “Skipping or running down a country road is where you’ll likely find this energetic young lady.” – I absolutely adore this line.

      I also enjoyed your explanation of how you named your children. You might find it interesting that we named my son, Emmet, after Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug- Band Christmas. He still loves his name, and he’s almost a teenager, so we must have chosen the correct name for him.:)

    2. Stephanie, I really enjoyed your bio of Anne. I love that she is looking for adventure and sometimes the leader of trouble.

      Being an Anne myself, I’m a fan of characters with the same name. After I read Anne of Green Gables I happily corrected anyone that I was an Anne with an E.

  49. Liliana

    Liliana is a fun and light-hearted woman. She travels frequently between the U.S. and Central America supporting non-profits for community stability and education. She also co-teaches a yoga and meditation teacher training class in Guatemala.

    So I’m really an ESL teacher, yogi, and writer in Appleton, WI. I’m currently working on a novel inspired by one of my students and some vignettes inspired by my own travels. I really enjoyed reading the conversation yesterday!

    Also-maybe this is future me??

  50. When I was 8, I was a big fan of the TV show, “Charlie’s Angels”. Kelly was my favorite character, and when we pretended to be Charlie’s Angels, I would always insist on being her.

    One day, a moving truck arrived in the neighborhood. Impulsively, I marched over to the new family and introduced myself as Kelly. I played with the girl in the yard, and everyone called me Kelly all afternoon.

    After I went home, I felt kind of bad. After all, I liked my own name fine. I worried about how I would let these people know what my real name was without looking like a goofball. I stayed away for a while and then told the girl my real name, and then kind of acted like she must have had me confused with someone else in the neighborhood. I never thought of changing my name after that.

    1. This is such a funny story – thank-you for sharing.”Impulsively, I marched over to the new family and introduced myself as Kelly.” I love this moment.

      Diane – great comment. :o) Made me go to YouTube to remember who was who.

  51. I find I am way too comfortable and happy with myself and my name (Maggie) at this point in life to think about wanting to change it. Instead, I’ve chosen several of the names I loved as a young girl and teenager and written a sentence describing who I imagined I would be if I had that name!

    Elizabeth—I’m powerful and charismatic. I’m attractive, but in a very angular way. Boys find me a bit intimidating. Don’t call me the b-word . . . you’ll regret it.

    Sophie—I’m gentle, kind, and very pretty. I have enormous eyes. I’m broody and melodramatic. I write excellent poetry. If the U.S. had heather-filled moors, I would enjoy taking longs walks on them.

    Giselle—I’m super graceful and athletic. I’m also clever and probably know all your secrets.

    Jane—I keep to myself, and people think I’m mysterious.

  52. As the first of seven children born on a farm, my mom was simply named LouAnn, a merging of her parents’ names. I, on the other hand, as the first grandchild born not long before Woodstock and in the state that remains split about what happened at the local state college named Kent, I never quite conformed to my name, Barbi, or all the cultural expectations met in the circles of family, school, and church.

    Although you will most often find Amber in a local library, you might also find her visiting an unfamiliar one in a town during her vacations or trips to collegiate running events before or after she has cheered on her son. Her varied reading interests from history to speculative literature suggest her chosen name, Amber, fits well. Her willingness to connect with others reflect what she has learned from the opportunities of living in several different states, as well as navigating the unexpected events in her life, including a loss of a husband that like the deepening swirls of brown marks on amber sometimes seems very fresh and other times more distant. What we make of our experiences become the simple gems of a life well lived. That’s also why friends are just as likely to find Amber in her garden or hiking trail, camped out under a tree, reading a book but stopping every so often to look up at the sky.

  53. I would not pick the name Susan—it’s much too common in my age group. My mother said the other option being considered was Martha—something I definitely would not have liked. I guess I would pick the name Kate because it seems to symbolize someone who likes adventure.
    Kate or Cat or Charlie or Sam
    Wry sense of humor
    Loves history, music and culture
    Interesting discussions
    Dogs with beautiful faces

    1. Love the name Kate/Katherine etc… – I think it symbolizes adventure AND strength. Although I know a few lovely ladies named Susan that are incredibly strong too.

  54. New Name: Riley. Goes by nickname – Rye.

    Mini Bio: If Rye isn’t in your corner, you may soon find yourself backed into one. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, and when her mind is decidedly on your side, she’ll always have your back. Her effortless jean-clad chic gives her the appearance of a laid-back and approachable human – which she can be. But Rye’s never been able to figure out how to back down from something that just didn’t sit right with her. While she may have just come for the beer, she’ll rapidly find herself spitting infallibly succinct and articulate truth bombs when she catches even a whiff of injustice.

  55. When I was in elementary school, I had two classmates also named Pam. I thought the name plain and common and would preferred a different name. Now that I am thinking of what name that would be (after having lived inside Pam for so long), I contemplate my childhood heroes, my favorite book characters, and then today, at the library, a girl comes up to the desk to check out a stack of books. She has a beautiful name, and her middle name makes me think of being names after something in nature, so I rename myself Birdfeather and reimagine my life. I am in charge of healing wounded animals. I spend years quietly observing and learning about birds and foxes and deer and squirrels. I train myself to stillness. Animals approach me. People call me the girl of healing gifts. Stories are told about me, and I live on in the feathers of the birds that fly overhead.

  56. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my own story with names.

    I switched my own name in high school. It wasn’t anything drastic or dramatic, but merely for the purpose of clarity. My birth name was Katherine, with a K and spelled the “right” way, but I was never called with such a formal moniker (unless I was in trouble). My family always called me “Katie”, ending in “i.e.”, never with a “y”. And if you try to shorten Katherine to Kathy as many of my grade school teachers would do on the first day of school, I refused to answer. My Aunt Nancy would call me Katie-Kates, but to everyone I was Katie.

    In high school it all changed as the sending elementary schools merged into the regional high school. Seated alphabetically, “Katie Seitz” was directly in front of Katy Sharrow in just about every class as we were both on the Honors track. I would get whiplash in class every time the name “Katie” or “Katy” was called. We both found it annoying as we never knew which one was meant to be summoned. So for practical purposes, I dropped my “I” and became Kate, and Katy kept her “y” to remain Katy. When I was in class with Katy Sharrow, I didn’t answer the teacher unless he/she referred to me as Kate, but many of my friends who knew me since grammar school still called me Katie.

    Trying to switch from Katie to Kate was weird (are you getting lost in the telling of this tale?). When I went away to college the transition was easier and folks only knew me as Kate. Only my family still called me “Katie.” When I returned to my alma mater as a teacher 18 years ago, try as I might to remain Kate, most folks called me “Katie,” even though I referred to myself as Kate and introduced myself as Kate to my husband when we met 14 years ago. Now on Twitter and in the edtech world, I’m always called Kate Baker– first and last (married) name together. It has a cadence to it, as well as uses assonance with the emphasis on the “A” sounds. I like that poetic touch.

    I feel as if I have two personas. Katie: young, bounce-around-the-room, gregarious. Kate: mature, austere, reserved, professional. I don’t mind when folks call me Katie– it makes me feel nostalgic, but I don’t want to be viewed as young and inexperienced because of my nickname.

    Now when it comes to creating characters, I have a hard time coming up with names. Creating an identity from scratch is overwhelming as there are so many choices to choose from. I’m much more of a MacGyver personality: give me some pieces and I’ll rearrange and synthesize. I think this is also why creative writing–as in world building and such– has been a struggle. I’m overwhelmed by all of the possibilities and shut down. I can write dialogue and a scene, but I will use pronouns instead of proper names for the main character. With more practice and time dedicated to writing, hopefully I will go from merely seeing a silhouette of the character to being able to imagine the whole person.

    1. Kate, I love that the switch of the name is having two personas. When I was hired for my first professional corporate job I had every call me Anne Marie because I thought it was more professional and would look sophisticated in business cards. My entire life I was Annie. I’m still Annie, but I wanted to be have that other persona at the time. Thank you for sharing this, I loved it.

  57. Claire. Claire Margret. A name of her own with a hint of a family story to carry with her. She could be a cowgirl or a lawyer. A name to suit a fresh-eyed baby girl or “Ol’ Ms. Claire,… you know, the crazy old lady who sits on her front porch, smilin’ away in her rocker, watchin’ every sunset with with her .22 on her lap…Ms. Claire.” Yes, Claire would be my name. Twice it made the list of possibilities for our children-to-be, but never our first choice. Maybe because I have always been saving it for me.

    I bet Claire would not be writing this at the last minute, eating Cheezies and drinking cheap white wine. Or…actually…maybe she would.

    1. I love the idea of ‘Ol Ms. Claire, this image made me smile. And I agree with Jen, I love that line.

  58. In first grade, I desperately wanted to be “Jenny.” So, on every paper, I wrote “Jenny” instead of Jennifer. However, my first grade teacher had a problem with this. As a result, I remember having to stay in during recess to write my “correct” name. I can still remember sitting at my desk, looking out of the windows on beautiful, sunny days when the other first graders were running and playing and having such a good time while I wrote “Jennifer” over and over and over. By the end of that process, I no longer wanted to be “Jenny.” When I was a teenager, a great-aunt started calling me “Jenny” and I hated it. I’m not sure if my irritation with being called Jenny stemmed from those first grade memories or if I simply realized that I really wasn’t a “Jenny.” Would I be a different person if I’d been able to embrace “Jenny” as a six-year-old? I hadn’t ever thought about that until today.

    1. Wow! Can’t believe that first grade teacher! I had the opposite situation. I still remember a teacher in preschool who called me Jenny instead of Jennifer. I didn’t have the nerve to tell her that I was *not* Jenny, but Jennifer. And I still remember how bristly it made me feel. Names are so important. Interestingly enough, I moved to a new school district for one year in 9th grade. The swim coach there called me Jenny, and I let it go. Decided to “try on” a new name, knowing it wouldn’t be permanent. As a result, many of the friends I have from that period of my life know me as Jenny. They’re the only ones allowed to call me that. To everyone else, I’m Jennifer, Jen or even Jay. But not Jenny.

  59. Hi, a late in the day response. I grew up Karen. There’s always just been me and one other karen along the way growing up. There were never ever a lot of Karens. I never wanted another name. My grandfather gave me the nickname Ka-rin and I imagined it was spelled Corrine, like the character in Soap. I am dating myself. Soap was a tv sitcom in the late 70s/early 80s. My grandfather was more “present” in my life than my father. He was fascinated by me. It may have been because I was the first grandchild, but he made me feel so special. I think that is why the nickname of Ka-rin meant so much. He gave me a special identity, one that made me feel unique, loved and strong. I believed in myself. It was a nickname that only he used. He showed an interest in my achievements and taught me to pitch a softball. In his day he was a little league baseball coach. I may not have fulfilled the writing obective, but the assignment has made me remember a very special man today, and for that I am grateful. My son’s middle name is Robert after my grandfather.

    On a side note, I need to check out the book about Ramadan. I am always looking for great read alouds for my K class. Thank you!

    1. Karen, this is beautiful. I think this is what is amazing and important about names. An name or reflecting on a name can evoke a memory. A name can allow you to remember someone and keep that memory alive through another. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Hi Karen,
      Your writing today gave me the chance to connect and remember my grandpa – how can reading words create joy and sadness in almost the same instant. Thank-you for sharing this lovely bit.

  60. If I had to change my name, I would change it to Isabelle (not because of Twilight either). I have always loved the name, especially when spoken with a French accent (I’m of Franco-American descent). Also, it could easily be made into a nickname (Belle or Bella) if needed. It is a name that seems to promise potential when young and matures with you as you grow. When I was in high school, three girls had the exact first and last name that I had (which caused some confusion). Having a name that is not generally used, but still known seems special- but not too special (people mispronounce it, misspell it, call you something completely different, etc.).

    Isabelle- good-natured spirit, strong of will; however, quiet with regard, care-giver, life-long learner & reader of books, admirer of the little things in life (birdsongs, fireflies, soft petals of flowers, salty breeze from the sea) & nature’s grand portraits, equitable in all affairs.

    1. Michelle, my favorite line is, “admirer of the little things”. I love your name choice. Thank you for sharing!

  61. The name I wish I had been given was a name my parents had actually considered: Siobhan. They were afraid that it would cause me a lifetime of weird nicknames, inventive spelling errors, and butchered pronunciations. Both of my parents are Irish, and I was born on St. Patty’s Day. A traditionally Irish name, it’s actually a bit of a contradiction with my personal beliefs. It is an Irish variation of the name Joan. It means “God is gracious” – and idea I have mixed opinions about. I love the idea of Joan variation, however, because who could be cooler than Joan of Arc. Many women, perhaps. But not necessarily during her time.

    Siobhan’s Bio:

    Siobhan was fearless, at a young age. I should say, she has always been the embodiment of fear that has said its prayers. At age 6 she stood her ground to the meanest nun in the entire parochial school, defending an older stuttering boy who could not recite the Nicene Creed without a glitch of the tongue. At age 12, she wiped the pavement with a neighborhood bully who specialized in torturing small animals and anyone who had a whiff of “foreign.” By 25, Siobhan was breaking barriers as one of first female reporters embedded with Marines in Afghanistan. Now, at age 46, she is renowned journalist, sought after lecturer, and all-around badass.

    1. I actually know how to say Siobhan! It’s a beautiful sounding name! I had no idea that it was a variant of Joan. That’s interesting. It was a really cool bio as well!

  62. This was super fun to briefly explore my alter-ego. When I was growing up, I remember that I always wanted my name to be Ariel. I think I may have been inspired by The Little Mermaid. 🙂 Anyway, here’s my Ariel bio:

    After growing up in India with her ex-pat parents, Ariel settled in New York City, where she has been performing on and off Broadway for 8 years. As an accomplished singer and dancer, audiences often flock to her sold out shows, making her the hottest ticket in town. When she isn’t performing, she is traveling the world, with her most recent jaunts being to Thailand, Indonesia, Morocco, and South Africa. When she is at home, she works on her memoir and plays with her pet monkey, Steven.

  63. I REALLY wanted to be Christine– everyone in my class seemed to be Jenny or Jennifer 🙂

    Born in Los Angeles to her FBI agent father and nudist mother, Christine dreamed for a life in the mountains. Christine relocated to Lake Tahoe in Northern California. As a child, she dreamed of being a lawyer, confident in this path after her mother told her she was excellent at arguing. However, playing school with her neighbor Anne was so much fun that she eventually became a teacher. Christine now lives in a cabin on Echo Lake and spends her time hiking, blogging, and doing yoga on her Sup board, pursuing life and quiet happiness with her husband Juan and two dogs, Lola and Carter.

  64. In regards to my own name, I think I’ve always secretly wished I could change it, but at the same time enjoyed it at the same time. I think the reason I wanted to change it was because there was at least one other Stephanie in most of my classes, so I was never sure which one the teacher was calling on. I remember back in high school I knew at least four other Stephanie’s, and a few Stephan’s, and we had decided one day at lunch that we were going to take over the world and only Stephanie’s and Stephan’s would be allowed to live. Honestly, if I changed it, it would probably be the spelling, to make it more unique.

    For the purpose of this writing prompt, I chose another name in my head that I would have changed my name to … “Lanetta”. The reason is that when my parents first found they were pregnant, they were told they were having twins. I’m not sure the names if they were boys, but if they were girls, the names they picked were “Lanetta Marie” and “Janetta Nicole”. (Now, I don’t know if that’s how the names actually played out or if the middle names were switched, but it’s what my memory is telling me.) Unfortunately she miscarried, so it’s just me. So this my brief summary of Lanetta, imagined as if I was a twin …

    Think you’re seeing double? Then you’re probably right, cause I’m a twin! My name is Lanetta and I’m the oldest (okay, it’s only by a few minutes, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?). Now, my twin and I may look alike at first glance, but we’ve gotten out of that ‘dress-alike’ stage back in elementary, so it’s a little easier to tell us apart now. Oh, and our personality is totally different. I’m the more out-spoken, friendly one, while my sister is the quiet, shy one. Maybe it’s cause I was born first I felt the need to take charge. Oh, and that whole twin-telepathy thing people always ask about? Yeah, we so have it. I always get a six-sense when my sister is feeling down. Of course, it may be because we spend so much time together. Yeah, it may be because we grew up together, but I think that only helped strengthen our bond. It’s like the saying the girls have on that Disney show “Liv and Maddie” – Sisters by chance, friends by choice.

  65. Thanks for this intriguing assignment, Hena. I loved spending time thinking about it and writing down a few ideas. I didn’t have a good idea about what other name I would choose for myself, so I thought about character traits that were important to me, made searches, and discovered the name Lenna, which is supposed to remind the bearer that she has the inner strength of a lion. I liked that very much because I wish I had more of it, especially when encountering challenges.

    I also loved reading through the many stories and bios shared. Names have gotten a whole new meaning for me. Thanks everyone!


    P.S. And Hena, I will definitely order your books for our Primary School library. They all sound wonderful and will surely make a perfect addition to our collection.

  66. Growing up I was the only Brandy I ever knew. I was on the list of uncommon names. Once I had a gym teacher ask me if I popped out of a bottle. I really didn’t know what he meant by that. Now when I think about that I kind of think that the comment wasn’t really appropriate for a teacher to say to a kid. I know I would never say something like that. But that was back in the 70s….
    I was born in 1972 and from what my parents told me Elizabeth and Candida were considerations. But then Looking Glass came out with their one hit wonder “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” and that’s all she wrote. I’ve always liked my name. I think at one brief point I did want my name to be Chrissy. Probably from watching lots of Three’s Company. To this day I’ve really only met a few other Brandys. One a student, one a colleague, one a cousin’s girlfriend.

    To clarify, It is Brandy with a Y, not I, IE, or EE. When I see my name written with those (because for some reason people always use those endings rather than the real spelling), my mind immediately says that’s not me. I’m Brandy with a Y!!!

    Bio: Brandy with a Y is not a one hit wonder, After growing up as a military brat, she pursued a career in education. She’s taught grades K-12, and truly enjoys it. She married her soul mate. Yes she is “a fine girl “and what a “good wife she would be”. Currently, she and her husband (not a sailor) are raising two kids Zoe without a Y and Zachary with a CH. Brandy hopes to travel more, write a children’s book, and enjoy life with her husband and children.

  67. Late to this conversation, I’ll just add a few thoughts. My name is Marilyn. I never had another classmate named Marilyn, nor did my sister, Evelyn. Our names were considered old-fashioned, but I liked that our names rhymed. It gave us a connection that carried over to one of our nicknames — she was Ay (long a) and I was B (short for Baby). I’m still Baby, even now as a grandma.

    My name was problematic for me in 3rd grade, the year Marilyn Monroe committed suicide. I was confused by the teasing I got over this from the 15 boys in my class. They made me feel ashamed, but I couldn’t figure out why at the time.

    If I were to choose another name, I think I would choose Meredith in honor of my Welsh roots and ancestor named, Elizabeth Meredith. I have heard it pronounced Me-red’-ith, as her surname. I think it means “great lord” which I interpret to be a term of honor to God. Someday I want to study the Welsh language and the great musical tradition in that small country.

  68. This is a great post! I am a day behind but wanted to say thank you for it. I have always had a hate/like relationship with my own name. Even though I feel my name is a bit boring and an over done 60’s generation name I have decided to own it and make it what I want it to be. Thank you again!

  69. I didn’t get to this quick write yesterday, but I love it! I have enjoyed reading everyone’s name stories. Growing up, I didn’t know any other Michele’s until middle school. My name was problematic growing up because I only had one “L”. That meant I never had personalized anything because they all had two “L”s. The older I got, the more I loved my one L. It made me a little different. I liked that the Beatles (one of my favorites) wrote a song about me. I’ve had some variation nicknames in my life. My mom called me Shell. One of her favorite things to do was call up to me in my bedroom and say, “Do you want an egg Shell?” And I’d respond, “No, mom. Just the egg!” My best friend called me the same name, but the spelling was varied, “Chele”. She is the exclusive user of that name. My dad endearingly called me “Pumpkin Head” (Is that really endearing or a commentary on my head size?). I have become mom, momma, and Micki (used only by my husband until I gained a son-in-law last summer and he has taken to using it. ❤️)
    My mother wanted to name me Loren, whether I was a boy or girl. My dad wasn’t sure about that in 1964. I always thought it would have been cool to be Loren.

    Loren has just completed her tenth book. Her stories range from adventure to mystery to the nit picking of everyday life. She enjoys traveling the world, photography, working in her garden, and researching her next idea for a story.

    Thanks for sharing all of your stories.