The Name Jar

What’s in a name? Our names can have meaning to us, to the people who named us, and can take on meaning for those we meet and befriend. They can be a big part of our identity and how we see ourselves. In Yangsook Choi’s book The Name Jar, a young girl named Unhei moves to America from Korea, and worries that her name will make it hard for her to fit in.

She decides that she will choose a new name, and her classmates offer suggestions on pieces of paper they put into ‘the name jar’. What name will Unhei choose?

The author, Yangsook Choi, grew up in Korea and got a degree in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Choi started drawing when she was just four years old! Choi loves talking to children all over the world, and learning from them. 


Let’s think about our names. Write down how you feel about your name, where you think it comes from, and whether or not you would change it.

Download the activity sheet:

Then ask your family members where your name comes from. A lot of names have special meanings in other languages, what’s the meaning of yours? What language does it come from? Now go back to what you had previously written. Does knowing the meaning of your name change how you feel about it?

The way we feel about our name can change throughout our lives. Some people love their name from the start, while others come to appreciate it over time. Some people even change their names to better suit them, or go by a nickname. Whatever name you choose to go by should be about what you feel is true to you!