Thursday, March 9, 2017

March 10 - Middle Name Pride Day

So. A little background.

Over 20 years ago, when I was single and new to town, I met this single, good-looking law enforcement officer. He thought I was kinda cute, too, but his friends warned me he was a little shy.

Thirteen years later, he had yet to ask me out (a little shy?!) Some not-so-subtle hints, involving a discussion around this book by Robert Munsch:


finally brought about that first date. Thirteen weeks later we were engaged. 

On the day of our wedding, we came home to find a package from Canada waiting in the mailbox. It was a copy of the above book, with this inscription:

That says, "To Ami and Mike on the occasion of your wedding", and is signed ROBERT FREAKING MUNSCH (middle name and capital letters are mine).

Well. When, 13 weeks later, I discovered I was pregnant, there was no doubt that this coming girl-child must have a middle name of Elizabeth (the story's main character).

Her subsequent brothers share different parts of their father's name as middle names - not as long a story, but still meaningful. Is there a special story or significance behind your children's middle names? Were you 'saving' a name to use some day, or did you search for one that sounded just perfect with their first name? Or did your child already have his or her name when you met them, as is the case with some of my other children? 

Kids LOVE to hear stories that are all about them - even if it doesn't seem like anything world-shattering, consider writing down and illustrating together the story of how their name was chosen!



The essential book for anyone who has ever been teased about his or her name!


What if the problem isn't that people make fun of your name, it's that they just don't know how to say it? 

During my college years, I worked at a summer camp for kids from the inner city. One week I remember seeing the name "Cinneanaquiya" on my roster. My partner took one look and said, "We'll just call her 'Kiya'" I responded, "We will NOT!" These kids were far fromtheir homes and comfort zones, didn't know anyone, and had little of their own with them except their names. I wasn't about to take that away, too. (For the record, it is pronounced "Shee-anna-keeya".)


Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.

Extension: All three of these stories deal with children not being happy with their name for different reasons. What were they? Can you think of any other reasons someone might want to change their name, or why they might not want to? Immigrants were sometimes forced to change their names - what are your thoughts on that? 


Most of us don't use our middle names in daily practice, but it can make your signature seem oh-so-much more formal and official. Help your child practice writing his full name - in print or in cursive. Maybe even try a few special flourishes for when they land that book contract in a year or two!


Create a fancy sign for your door with your full name. You can range from a simple drawing on paper to stencils on wood, or create a collage around your name that is all about you. How about an acrostic?

Social Studies

The usage and meaning of middle names can be a cultural thing. Much of my ancestry is Italian, and let me tell you, genealogy is loads of fun when your ancestors had 7 daughters, and named each one Maria. Middle names can be very important when you need to tell them apart!

In some cultures, it is not common practice to give a child a middle name. In others, a woman's maiden name may become her middle name when she marries. A middle name might also simply designate whether someone is male or female, or might be a variation on the mother or father's name. In all of these cases, what we refer to as a 'middle' name might be referred to as something else - a surname, a patronymic, part of the given name, etc.

As you can imagine, the topic can get a bit confusing, but I think this site gives a simple enough explanation of some naming traditions for younger children! I like that the information for each country mentioned comes from a native of that country.


- Procrastination is my middle name! Not really, but if our middle names had to mean something, that would be a distinct possibility. Discuss with your child the expression "___ is my middle name". Generally, it means that (blank) is something very close to you, or is a large part of you. Have some fun filling in that blank for each member of your family (be nice!) Create name tags to wear at dinner, saying "Hi, my (middle) name is Baseball!", and try to remember to refer to each other that way throughout the meal.

- What other expressions can you think of with the word "name" in them? (___is the name of the game) How about expressions with specific names in them? (Don't be such a Nervous Nelly!Oxford Dictionaries has a fun list to get you started!


- Personalize some story problems at your child's level with names (including middle, of course) of your family members. Division is so much more fun when it is YOU who have 12 cookies to share with your 3 siblings! 

- Assign each letter of the alphabet a coin amount, then tally up to see whose name is 'worth' the most money. Try it with and without middle names, and see if that makes a difference!

Other Web Sites to Explore

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