Your Name is a Song

I spell my name D-E-N-A, and it's pronounced "Day-na." Born in Hawai'i, my pronunciation aligns with the Hawaiian alphabet. It's familiar to experience friends unintentionally mispronouncing my name, sometimes repeatedly. Although they never intend harm, it can make me feel distant from them. This book excellently describes the beauty in diverse names and emphasizes the importance of correct pronunciation. It includes both familiar and unique names, and the author provides pronunciation guidance in an accompanying video.

The book touches on deep themes, like how some names are created from dreams or as a response to the loss of ancestral knowledge, exemplified in names like Ta'jae and Trayvon. This reference to the lasting impacts of American chattel slavery is significant for both students and adults.

Reading this book feels like there's music in the background, making it an ideal choice for music enthusiasts and, essentially, everyone.


Social Justice Activities:

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Identity 4. Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.

Diversity 9. Students will respond to diversity by building empathy, respect, understanding and connection.

Action 18. Students will speak up with courage and respect when they or someone else has been hurt or wronged by bias.'

Reading Strategies:

Figurative Language: The title is a metaphor and the book is filled with metaphors and similes. The mother also uses beautiful descriptive words to describe names, make a list of all the words to enhance writing.

Speaking & Listening: Build community by having students record a video on FlipGrid, pronouncing their full name and telling something special about their name. This will allow students and teachers to watch the video as many times as needed to memorize names correctly.

Book Details:
  • Fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Black & Muslim
  • Author's stated heritage: Black & Muslim
  • Subject Integration: Music, Art, Writing

Listen to the Author

The Author pronounces all the names in the book.

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain