Category: baby names from books
By Abby Sandel
Let’s talk literary baby names.
Noah Wyle’s new daughter has a Mockingbird middle. Her first is associated with a beloved children’s author, too, whose most famous works date to the early twentieth century, as well as with the heroine of J.D. Salinger’s famous story Franny and Zooey.
Choosing baby names can be tough. You have to decide if you want something traditional or original, family-inspired or out of the box – and then you probably have to get at least one other human on board with your decision. Yes, there are apps for this whole process (and we definitely recommend you check them out if you’re in a bind), but sometimes it’s best to start with something you know and love — like a favorite book. Here are 30 baby names inspired by our favorite fiction (and book-based movies) to help you get those baby name creative juices flowing.
Literature has been a source of inspiration for many parents over the years. Thousands of babies have been named after favorite characters, authors, and literary places. This has led to many well-named, book-loving children running around. Chances are that these children will eventually read the book their name was inspired by: for those whose names were inspired by children’s books, that day will come even sooner.
There are hundreds of well-named characters in children’s literature, and many books that have been loved for generations have proper names right in the title. Here are some prime examples.
One prevalent thread in children’s literature is main characters with short, sweet, nicknames ending in the -ie sound. Examples include Elsie (from Elsie Dinsmore), Pippi (from Pippi Longstocking), Winnie (from Winnie the Pooh, of course), Harry (from the Harry Potter series), and Charlie (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). These names would easily fit right in with currently popular names. Other names in this vein include Betsy (from Betsy-Tacy), Caddie (from Caddie Woodlawn), Julie (from Julie of the Wolves), Nancy (from Fancy Nancy and the Nancy Drew mysteries), and Lilly (Lilly‘s Purple Plastic Purse).
On the other hand, longer names are found in children’s books as well. Everyone knows of Pollyanna, Stellaluna (which was used as Stella Luna by actress Ellen Pompeo), Matilda, and Angelina Ballerina. Similar long names include Coraline (from the book of the same singular name), Esperanza (from Esperanza Rising), and Ramona (from the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary). The boys’ side brings long monikers like Alexander (from Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), Ferdinand (from The Story of Ferdinand), and Sylvester (from Sylvester and the Magic Pebble).
Children’s literature also brings a bevy of traditional names. Many classic children’s books were written long ago, so this would be expected, but more recent books utilize traditional names as well. Names for girls in this category include Alice (from Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland), Amelia (from Amelia Bedelia), Charlotte (from Charlotte‘s Web), and Madeline. These names are timeless and will always fit in. Other girl names in this category include Catherine (from Catherine, Called Birdy), Ella (from Ella Enchanted), Olivia (from the Olivia series), Rebecca (from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm), and Sarah (from Sarah, Plain and Tall). These names are always sure to be pronounced and spelled properly!
Classic names on the boys’ side are all very handsome choices: Edward (from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane), George (from Curious George), James (from James and the Giant Peach), and Peter (from Peter Pan). Any boy would be lucky to receive such a strong name.
Many names from children’s lit are due for a revival. These may not be currently super popular, but they still have rich histories and are wonderful names. Examples for girls are Anne (from Anne of Green Gables), Eloise, Harriet (from Harriet the Spy), Heidi, and Martha (from George and Martha). Girls with these names would have a beautiful and solid first name, and yet would would likely be the only one in their class.
There are a similar number of boy names in this category, possibly still considered fusty and old-fashioned by some, but the right little boy could make them oh-so-handsome. Amos (from A Sick Day for Amos McGee), Hugo (from The Invention of Hugo Cabret), Ivan (from The One and Only Ivan), and Lyle (from Lyle, Lyle Crocodile) would all fit in easily with trendy names. Names in this category that are due for a dusting-off include Clifford (from Clifford the Big Red Dog), Harold (from Harold and the Purple Crayon), Richard (from the Richard Scarry books), and Stuart (from Stuart Little).
Finally, we have names that are more trendy and modern. Our parents or grandparents likely wouldn’t have used these names, but the current “anything goes” mantra of the baby-naming world right now makes them usable. These include Bentley (from Snowflake Bentley), Caspian (from Prince Caspian), and Shiloh (from the Shiloh trilogy). One can also look to last names of characters; if Tom and Huckleberry aren’t your style, Sawyer and Finn might be.
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne Shirley series is a childhood classic. While the series itself might be something you save to read to your kids when they’re older, if you’re pregnant, it might be worth reading on your own. The books are chock-full of wonderful characters with the kind of great, old-fashioned yet elegant names that are currently popular. In case you don’t have the time to read eight books in the next few months, I’ve made a list of some of my favourites here.
Phillippa (Anne’s college friend) – This is one of those names that I am surprised is not more popular already, because it is bang-on trend. Old-fashioned? Check. Ends on a vowel? Check. Soft “ell” sound? Check. Unisex nickname possibility (“Phil”)? Check. Seriously this name is perfect; what are you waiting for?
By Chris Raschka
The power we wield when we name a child is terrible. And unavoidable. Oh, the sleepless nights! What will this name confer on our beloved baby? Only good things, we fervently hope. This name is exciting, but is it too exciting? This one is solid, but is it boring? “How about, Joseph?” you say. “No,” says your wife, “I knew a terrible Joseph!”
Happily, I suffered none of this angst when I named the children in the book my friend Vladimir Radunsky and I have put together called Alphabetabum. It was this way. I was in Rome visiting Vladimir there and just about to walk out for a happy afternoon of sight-seeing when Vladimir began to lay out on his work table one marvelous, small, antique photographic child’s portrait after another. He grabbed my arm, and said, “Look at these masterpieces! Every one holds the story of a precious forgotten soul inside of it! We must do something with them.”