Ever wish you could change your name? A young girl decides to do exactly that in Keri T. Collins’s new picture book, You Can Call Me Katelyn.
Inspired by Collins’s daughter and told in the first person from Katelyn’s point of view, readers learn that Katelyn was never thrilled with her name. Her parents didn’t even have a first named picked out for her in the hospital! Her parents settled on Carly, which she is NOT a fan of – and even less of a fan when she discovers that people can’t spell her name right. Katelyn decides to take charge of her happiness, which means changing her name: she likes Katelyn; a mashup of her two best friends’ names, and starts telling everyone around her to call her by her chosen name. Don’t want to call her Katelyn? She doesn’t want to answer you. She’s upbeat and enthusiastic, and lets readers know that all it takes is some determination and a little bit of sparkle to make the world a better place.
At some point, most kids aren’t in love with their names. It’s not like we have a choice when we’re born, after all. You Can Call Me Katelyn delivers a big message in a little story: overcome your fear and make changes where you can. It’s an inspiring message, and I’m sure this will be a popular read-aloud. I enjoyed the bigger message in this story – overcome fear and look within yourself for the power to effect change – and the author’s tips, available at the end of the book, for taking action and moving past fear. There’s a crown coloring sheet that kids can cut out and color; if you don’t want to damage your book, you can receive a coloring sheet via email at the author’s website.
The artwork is colorful and the pages are loaded with activity, always giving readers somewhere to look. There are humorous moments that kids will get a kick out of: Katelyn’s mother, holding her new baby in the hospital, covered with sticky notes scribbled over with baby names; baby Carly’s pacifier popping out of her outraged mouth as she sees her name misspelled on the sign welcoming her home from the hospital.
Pair this with some books and activities on the importance of names. Brightly has a great list and ideas here.