I can’t help but think that one of the best picture books to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month is Alma and How She Got Her Name.
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” ― Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
I would argue that our name is the most identifying part of our soul. Whether you’re Hispanic or not, our name has always been a significant part of who we are. We sign our artwork, legal documents, scroll it, tattoo it, shout it out, musically diverse it, – we grow into it and make it uniquely ours.
In Alma and How She Got Her Name, a little girl is annoyed with her very long name: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela and believes “it doesn’t fit.” Alma, with the help of her father, goes on a self-discovery, a journey of ancestry finding out where they come from and how each of her 6 names has contributed to her identity.
Juana Martinez-Neal beautifully paints (literally) a whimsically simple picture, almost poetically, explaining why Alma inherited her names. Imbedding the father as the story teller, gives significance to the Hispanic’s culture and their strong connection with their ancestry, past and present. It illustrates by inheriting their children with ancestral names, that connection carries on the memory of their descendants forwarding into a stronger familial bond. Each name given to Alma comes with unique characteristics and personalities that have been embodied by Alma, who, now transformed, will have her own story.
I love this story, and I think you will, too.
Published by: Candlewick Press, (April 10, 2018); Hardcover, 32 pages
Literary Awards: Caldecott Honor (2019) Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Nominee for Writer (2019) Monarch Nominee Award (2020)
Available: Target, $13.99, Second Sale (used), $11.08
Parental/Teacher Talking Points:
- Do you like your name?
- Have you ever thought about changing it?
- Where does your name come from?
- What was the reason you gave your child that particular name?
- Your name is special. This is why…
- Why did Alma not like her name?
Click on the image for a couple of fun download activities for your children and/or students: