As a longtime teacher and enthusiastic reader, Ms. Meyers urges parents to mine their favorite books when looking for the ideal baby name.
A Perfect Source of Inspiration
There’s no better way to build a loving connection between a parent and a child than reading books together. Whether it’s cuddling in bed on a lazy Saturday morning, sitting by the fire on a cold winter’s night, or staying cool under a shady tree on a sunny afternoon, reading creates a profound bond no matter where you are. As such, picture books and chapter books can be valuable sources of inspiration when searching for the ideal baby name.
Picture books and chapter books rouse fond memories and evoke positive associations. When hearing the name Harold, for example, many of us immediately think of the classic picture book, Harold and the Purple Crayon. We may warmly remember how it made us appreciate the power of our imaginations. Similarly, when hearing the name Margaret, many women affectionately recall Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. For many of them, it was their chief source of information and comfort when they had their first menstrual period.
Naming a child after a character from a favorite book serves as a daily reminder to make reading a priority. It represents the enormous influence that books have in our lives: to teach us, to reassure us, and to connect us as human beings. The process of selecting a moniker from a favorite picture book or chapter book can also propel parents to curate a home library for their youngster. This is one of the most consequential rituals that couples can share together as they build a proper nest for their little one.
These potential baby names are inspired by characters from top-quality picture books. Some titles are old favorites that many will recall from their own childhoods. Others are newer stories that one day will be classics. All of them are worthy additions to a child’s home library.
Baby Names Inspired by Picture Books
Amelia from Amelia Bedelia
Amelia is a sweet, feminine-sounding name. This humorous book by Peggy Parish tells the tale of a housekeeper, Amelia Bedelia, who’s kind-hearted but dense. Because she takes instructions literally, she’s a disaster on the job and almost gets fired. Her saving grace, though, is her ability to make delectable lemon meringue pie.
Lyle from Lyle, Lyle Crocodile
Lyle is a short, simple, and stylish name. This book by Bernard Waber tells the adventures of a crocodile, Lyle, who lives in the city with the Primm family. A disgruntled neighbor, Mr. Grumps, dislikes Lyle and wants him moved to the zoo.
Emily (Elizabeth) from Clifford, the Big Red Dog
Emily is an old-fashioned sounding name that’s elegant and traditional. This book is about a girl, Emily Elizabeth, who's devoted to her oversized dog. While his hugeness brings challenges to her life, she can’t imagine that any dog would be better for her than Clifford.
Sylvester from Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
Sylvester is a name that grabs attention for its boldness. This book, written by William Steig, tells the tale of a donkey, Sylvester, who finds a magic pebble that grants wishes. When a ferocious lion appears, he asks to be turned into a rock. His life is spared, but he can’t turn himself back into a donkey. This heartwarming story teaches that the real magic in life is just being yourself and being loved by your family.
Max from Where the Wild Things Are
Max is a strong, solid name that makes a big impact with its three little letters. This story, written by Maurice Sendak, won the Caldecott Medal for outstanding picture book and has entertained generations of children. Max disrespects his mother and is sent to his room where he imagines sailing away to a wondrous land full of wild creatures. It shows the power of a boy’s imagination as well as his love and longing for home.
Peter from The Snowy Day
Peter is a simple and straightforward name, well-suited for this classic, effortless book by Ezra Jack Keats. It tells the tale of an adorable boy and his adventures on a snowy day, playing and pretending. It celebrates the wonders of a child experiencing the great outdoors.
Alexander from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
This is a versatile name with Alexander sounding more formal and Alex sounding more casual. This book, authored by Judith Viorst, describes a boy who's having the worst day of his life. It’s human, humorous, and relatable.
Stella from Stellaluna
Stella means “star” in Latin and represents hope and brightness. This book by Jannell Cannon is about a young fruit bat who gets separated from her mom, winds up in a nest, and is adopted by a family of birds. It’s a story that celebrates how love and connection can happen despite our differences.
Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess
Elizabeth is a strong-sounding name that has versatility with Liz, Lizzie, and Beth. This book, written by Robert Munsch, is about a clever, resourceful princess who prefers to do the saving rather than be saved. The ending is especially powerful and eye-opening for girls.
Nichi from The Mitten
The unique spelling of Nichi makes this gender-neutral name remarkable and exotic. Based on a Ukrainian folktale, this book is written and illustrated by the beloved children's author, Jan Brett. It’s an amusing, tenderhearted tale of a boy, Nichi, who drops his mitten in the woods. Then, various animals use it as refuge from the cold.
Everyone needs to hear this clever story that puts a feminist spin on the traditional princess saga.
More Names Inspired by Picture Books
The Cat in the Hat
Charlotte and the Quiet Place
A Bad Case of Stripes
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Last Stop on Market Street
Blueberries for Sal
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is a much beloved tale about a donkey who discovers that true magic is being yourself and being part of a loving family.
While searching for a baby name in literature, parents have the opportunity to revisit favorite chapter books from their childhood as well as discover new ones. Because these characters are more fully fleshed out than those in picture books, they can penetrate our hearts and stay with us long after the final page. Naming a youngster after them lets their spirit continue to positively impact our lives and reminds us to keep reading aloud to our child even when they can read themselves.
Baby Names Inspired by Chapter Books
Deenie from Deenie
Deenie is a sweet-sounding name that belies a deeper strength and determination. This book is written by Judy Blume, an author who many middle-aged women grew up reading and now enjoy sharing with their daughters. Deenie is an average pre-teen who likes to hang out with her friends, talk about boys, and dream of becoming a cheerleader. All this is jeopardized when she’s diagnosed with scoliosis and faces the hard reality of having to wear a body brace for years to come.
Opal from Because of Winn-Dixie
Opal is the young protagonist in this book by Kate DiCamillo that earned a Newberry Honor. An opal represents innocence, purity, and longing. As such, it mirrors the bond between Opal and her beloved dog and friend, Winn-Dixie.
Charlie from Charlie and the Charlie Factory
Charlie is the hero of this much loved novel about a group of kids who go on an adventure-filled tour of a candy factory led by its eccentric owner. Written by Roald Dahl, it’s truly memorable for its funny and flawed characters. Charlie is the one pure soul who represents humility, honesty, kindness, and courage.
Fern from Charlotte's Web
Fern is the fiercely determined girl in this classic story by E.B. White. Outraged that a piglet may be killed simply because he’s the runt of the litter, she convinces her dad to spare its life. She then sets about loving and caring for Wilbur until he becomes big and strong.
Stanley from Holes
Stanley is the protagonist in Louis Sachar’s novel that earned a Newberry Medal. He’s a 14-year-old boy, wrongly accused of stealing, who gets sent away to a juvenile detention center in the desert where conditions are atrocious. During his captivity, Stanley grows physically and emotionally stronger and becomes more self-confident. He personifies resilience and strength of character.
Esperanza from Esperanza Rising
Esperanza means hope in Spanish and, therefore, is a fitting name for the heroine of this novel by Pam Munoz Ryan. Set in the 1930’s, this story is about a 13-year-old girl who’s growing up as part of the wealthy class in Mexico. When her father is murdered, though, she and her mother must flee their comfortable life in their homeland for uncertainty in the US.
Auggie from Wonder
For anyone who has read R.J. Palacio’s book about a 10-year-old boy with a facial deformity, they know that the name Auggie speaks to a winning combination of sweetness and toughness. Having never attended public school, Auggie starts for the first time in fifth grade. This book champions choosing kindness when it might be easier to do something else.
Meg from A Wrinkle in Time
This book written by Madeleine L’Engle in 1960 was ahead of its time. Not only does it delve into time and space travel, it’s protagonist is an adolescent girl who’s brilliant in both math and science. Moreover, Meg is presented as a fully dimensional character: sometimes stubborn, impatient, and overly emotional. It’s a moniker of heart, substance, and complexity.
Pax from Pax
Pax is the moniker of the fox in this gripping novel by Sara Pennypacker. It’s about the powerful bond between a boy and the wild animal he saved as a kit. It’s a loving testament to friendship, loyalty, and persistence.
Hazel from A Fault in Our Stars
Hazel is the 16-year-old protagonist in this love story by John Green. Contemplative and analytical, she courageously deals with her cancer by using humor and by thinking of others. By the end of the novel, she learns that love transcends human form and continues after death.
Stellaluna tells the tale of a fruit bat that's adopted by a family of birds. It's a tale that acknowledges our differences and celebrates our similarities.
A Fault in Our Stars
The Secret Garden
Where the Red Fern Grows
James and the Giant Peach
Becoming Naomi Leon
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Ivy and Bean
The Phantom Tollbooth
Alice in Wonderland
My Happy Life
Number the Stars
The Trumpet of the Swan
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Bridge to Terabithia
The Princess and the Goblin
Every kid can relate to the protagonist, Alexander, in this beloved picture book about a boy who has one bad thing after another happen to him.
© 2021 McKenna Meyers