My focus this month is to explore writing invitations, mostly through picture books, but possibly some other mentor texts as well.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful book to add to your picture book collection and would be perfect to use at the beginning of the year for a writer's notebook entry on names and identity. Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela is unhappy about her long name, but when her dad explains the stories of each one and why she was given it, she understands what a legacy she carries. I love that "Alma" is all hers to create her own identity and legacy. I used to read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes to invite kids to write about their names; this would be a great one to add and would celebrate diversity as well as family.
Invitation: Write about your name and what it means to your identity.
My name, Holly Maasen Mueller, has a history. Don't all names? There is something about your own name that brings a sense of belonging, validation, and pride. I think about the power of someone remembering your name and saying it in greeting. When I was in the classroom, one of my goals was to say each of my student's name with a positive tone at least once every day. As special as it is to call someone by name, it can also be degrading or shameful if said with disdain, disappointment, or anger. We need to hear our names with love!
Originally, my middle name was "Anne". I received this name from my paternal grandmother. Unfortunately, I don't have many memories of my paternal grandmother because she died of breast cancer when I was young. I have a beautiful photo of her hanging on my family picture wall of her holding my dad when he was a baby. I changed my middle name to "Maasen" when I got married. I definitely wanted to take my husband's name, but I didn't want to lose my maiden name, especially since there are no boys in the Maasen family to carry it forward. It will still end with me, but I got to carry it on a little further. I didn't want the complication of hyphenating my name, so it replaced Anne. Just as well since my former initials spelled HAM. Ugh.
"Maasen" comes from my dad's family. It was constantly misspelled and mispronounced by people! The double "a" throws people off. Mom and I were so happy when we visited Amsterdam one spring break and saw that double "a" all over the place! Even though it is somewhat hard to spell and pronounce, I was fortunate enough to love my last name because I loved my family.
"Mueller" is my married name and is obviously German! My in-laws immigrated to the United States when they were in their teens, so my husband, Ed, is a first generation American. Mueller is also misspelled and mispronounced, unfortunately, and even after almost 30 years of marriage, I don't completely feel like it's mine! Being "Mrs. Mueller" sounds even stranger to me! Still! It's strange to think that I've had that name much longer than my maiden name. I'm proud of my husband's name, though, as it comes from a rich heritage of strong and independent Germans. My oldest daughter got married 3 1/2 years ago and changed her last name to Stagnaro. That was a little hard to get used to!
That brings us to "Holly". My very own. I was supposed to be born Christmas day, but I didn't get the memo, so I came the day after. Having a December 26th birthday isn't always the best, but my family celebrates it separately (I may have insisted upon that...), so at least I always get the day off and can avoid those after-Christmas blues for one more day. I love my name. It seems to fit me perfectly. I like that it is somewhat unique, but not too unusual. It sounds cheerful on everyone's tongue, and it seems like a happy name. It's me.
What's in a name? A whole lot!