Written By: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Illustrated by: Luisa Uribe
For Ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Learning, Muslim Family, Racism, Prejudice.
This book is phenomenal. It gets right to the heart of the issue that so many children have names that their (well-meaning but ultimately results in a micro-aggression) teacher can’t pronounce. A young girl stomps over to her mother after school, in a terrible mood because her name wasn’t pronounced right all day, and some kids made fun of it. On the walk home, her mother expounds upon the many reasons that names are songs. Some are powerful, and rumble up from your stomach. Some names have fire inside them, and some come from the sky.
Throughout the story too, the reader is given exact pronunciations of the names the girl’s mother gives as examples for her beautiful and striking descriptions of where names come from. The next day in school, our main character has a plan. We won’t ruin the ending, of course. But you definitely need to read this book!
This story, like so many others that we share, shines a light on the unfairness and mistreatment that so many students experience. The onus is put on the student to teach others and answer invasive questions. In this story, the young girl is feeling discouraged but her mother is able to empower her to show how everyone’s name is like a song. In the back, there is a glossary of the names used in the story with their cultural origins. I am also obsessed with Luisa Uribe’s illustrations, they’re SO stunningly gorgeous. The color palette instantly caught my attention, and it’s beauty perfectly matches the impactful words of the story.
This book was kindly sent to us by Innovation Press, but all opinions are our own. This book is out tomorrow!
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, M.S.Ed, is an educator and children’s book author. Her works, which feature young Black Muslim protagonists, have been recognized and critically-praised by many trusted voices in literature, including American Library Association, School Library Journal, and NPR. She writes picture books and middle grade fiction. Her books include Mommy’s Khimar(Simon & Schuster, 2018), Once Upon an Eid (Abrams Books, 2020, contributor), Your Name is a Song (The Innovation Press, 2020) and Abdul’s Story (Simon & Schuster, 2021). She’s taught youth in traditional and alternative learning settings for 15 years and currently directs and develops writing programs for Philadelphia and New Jersey youth at Mighty Writers.