The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
In the book a girl named Unhei comes to America from Korea and starts in a new school. On the first day on the bus on her way to school is she made fun of because of her names. Because of this, she wants to choose an American name to use. So her classmates create a name jar to help her choose a name, and in the jar are names thought of by her classmates. When it was time for Unhei to choose a name, the jar was missing. Her friend had hidden the jar because he wanted her to choose her own name which meant grace. Unhei ended up keeping her Korean name and her friend had his Korean name created for him, which meant friend.
Use of this Book
I think this is a great book use in the beginning of the year with a class full of students that might not know one another. I think its a good way to get children to have pride in their names and want to use their birth names instead of nicknames (if used because of embarrassment). I think this could be a good way to research names in other countries or the meaning of our names. If a student's name isn't in a name index, we could try to look into meanings to portions of their name or the roots.
Domains of SJE:
Self-love and acceptance: This book is a great way to promote self love and acceptance. We see how difficult this process was for Unhei, yet at the end of the story, we see how she took pride in her Korean roots and used her native name.
Respect for Others: We can use this book to see the importance it is in respecting the difference in cultures and within our classroom. Had the students on the bus been more accepting of Unhei's name, she may have not run into the dilemma she was in. She may have gotten a little frustrated, but she would've been more willing to go through that process.
Exploring Issues of Social Justice: With this book, students can look into the past to when immigrants came into America and had to change their names at Ellis Island. They can still look into times in history such as the Holocaust, where the Jews weren't accepted. They can then look into different countries and issues that exists as far as acceptance.
Social Movements and Social Change: I think a fun and great learning experience to accompany this book would be interview of family members and ancestors to see, if they were immigrants, and see what they went through when they first arrived in this country. Also, if a family member changed their name when coming to this country, we could ask about that experience and their reasoning as to why. We can then go into the community and see what our community's opinion is in relations to this issue in America, and issues of tolerance in other parts of the world.