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The New Popularity of Storybook Names

baby name Eloise

What’s the connection between Lena Dunham’s tattoos and several of today’s most fashionable baby names? Dunham famously has Eloise of the storybook Plaza tattooed on her shoulder, and Eloise also happens to be one of today’s fastest-rising baby names, leaping up nearly 600 places since it reentered the Top 1000 list in 2009.  And the link is not just coincidence and is not limited to the charming Eloise: Many parents today are turning to their favorite childhood storybook characters for inspiration of both the baby name and tattoo variety.

Our focus today is on fictional characters in children’s books, though some older characters’ names in stories beloved by teens are finding favor too: Holden in Catcher in the Rye, for example, and Juliet in Romeo & Juliet.

The charming characters inspiring the names of an increasing number of babies include:

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new traditionals

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Lately when I hear a birth announcement, I’ll sometimes find myself thinking: “Oh, what a nice, normal name.”

This is madness, of course.  Because there’s no such thing as a normal name.

There are stalwart classics, like Elizabeth and James.  There are well-established mainstream choices, like Jacob and Ava.

Trends have been with us forever.  And there have always been kids with outlandish names, the Bunny and Princess, or Rebel, Rocket, and Rogue of their generations.

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2033g1

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Americans are more daring when it comes to naming daughters, and the numbers bear this out.

In 2013, just over 67% of girls born in the US received a Top 1000 name.  Boys, on the other hand, received a Top 1000 name nearly 79% of the time.

It makes predicting the most popular names of the future slightly more difficult when it comes to girls.  With everything from surnames – Madison and Addison – to enduring choices like Emily and Elizabeth in the current Top 20, it’s tough to say which direction parents will go in the future.

Or maybe we’ll just keep going in every possible direction.  This list is a little bit literary, slightly musical, occasionally globetrotting, sometimes unisex.

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abby--3-26-14

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Confession: I’ve watched Kid President’s latest YouTube video more than a dozen times.  It’s called “Letter to a Person on Their First Day Here,” and even though little Robby Novak (a.k.a. Kid President) never mentions names, it reminds me of the happiest part of talking all things onomastic.

Around 360,000 babies are born every day.  That’s 4.2 newborns every second.  Even if we limited it to arrivals in the English-speaking world, it would take a lot of berry brainpower to help find names for all of those lovely new people.

It’s worth looking for the right name, isn’t it?  All of these new people are going to do some amazing things.  At their best, the names we bestow on our children honor that potential.

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staroya

By Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

We love to talk about celebrities who choose far-out names for their children. But how about those who take the royal route, giving their kids names that are more Buckingham Palace than Hollywood play date?

I thought there might be oodles of starbabies with monarch-worthy monikers. But if we’ve learned anything from the Great Kate Wait, it’s that the list of possible names for a new prince or princess is pretty short.

Plenty of high profile parents play it safe, sticking with popular picks like Ava and Zoe, or traditional names like Daniel and Joseph. But despite their popularity and long history of use, those aren’t names fit for a future king or queen

Many of the names rumored to be on the royal shortlist are rare in Tinsel Town. Alexandra, Caroline, Victoria, Diana, and Anne are seldom heard, and the same is true for the boys’ list. Then again, actor Sean Astin has three regally named girls, and Eva Herzigova’s three sons all wear royal appellations, too.

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