The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi


The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

 Unhei was a young girl who recently arrived from Korea, where she left her beloved grandmother and extended family behind. When she arrived for her first day of school in America, she was asked by the teacher to introduce herself. She told her teacher she would think about which name she’d like to use and would share her new name with the class soon.

In the meantime, Unhei had a reckoning. What did her name mean to her? And why did her name matter? She remembered that her grandmother and mother had visited a name master in Korea before she was born. The name that the name master chose was Unhei, which meant grace. Her grandmother made her a stamp with her name, and it was her most treasured possession.

During the time that Unhei was reflecting on what her new American name might be, her classmates made a jar, with lots of different ideas for a new name. There was Daisy, Tamela, and Wednesday, but none of them quite felt like the right name for her.

She realized that her name was a big part of what made her, her. She was proud of her Korean heritage, and wanted to keep her name, which was an important part of her identity.

A letter from her grandmother arrived right on time. The letter said, No matter how far apart we are, and no matter how different America is from Korea, youll always be my Unhei.

She decided she liked the beautiful and funny names her class had come up with, but she liked her own name best of all. It was Korean, like she was. Her name had been perfect for her all along.

Review by Jeneka Ossa

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