Pick a Name That Will Inspire Your Child–Like Maya Angelou Has Inspired the WNBA’s Maya Moore

Maya Moore is currently leading the WNBA in scoring. Her team, the Minnesota Lynx (two-time WNBA champions), are undefeated in their first six games of the 2014 season. It seems that there’s almost nothing Moore can’t do on the basketball court. So on Friday, May 29, two days after Maya Angelou, Moore’s namesake, had passed away at the age of 86, Maya Moore did the unexpected. She announced:

“Tonight, I will play in celebration of the life of my namesake –Thank you for the beauty you brought into the world. #DrMayaAngelou”

To describe Maya Angelou as a great woman is almost an understatement. If you read what Wikipedia has to say about her, you’ll learn that she was a noteworthy author, poet, playwright, movie scriptwriter, director, producer, singer, actor, dancer,  professor, civil rights activist and journalist (to name just a few of her accomplishments). When she set her mind on something, there wasn’t anything Maya Angelou couldn’t do.

And that’s why Maya Angelou was a great namesake and inspiration for Maya Moore–which explains why Maya Moore, who was Rookie of the Year in 2011 and MVP of the WNBA Finals in 2013 dedicated herself to out-doing her previous accomplishments on and off the basketball court before the start of the 2014 season.

Moore’s gracious tribute to Maya Angelou demonstrates what a great gift parents can give their children when they name their kids after namesakes who can inspire and serve as role models for their children. It’s often a mistake to name children after pop culture stars whose images are subject to “trainwrecks” due to mistakes that are easily made when “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” combine with too much money to cloud their judgment–sometimes before they are even out of their teens and twenties.

Consider making a list of your heroes and reading about them to help you decide which of your heroes could motivate your child to do great things.

P.S. In addition to being a name with literary, athletic and historical connections, Maya is also on my top-20 list of “Cool Names for Girls.”

7 Literary Names Recommended by Nameberry’s Linda Rosenkrantz

I enjoyed reading Linda Rosenkrantz’s latest article, which she calls, “7 Newly Popular Baby Names That Have Been Hiding In Plain Sight.” I enjoyed it because she recommended the names of characters from several of my favorite books (including: Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird). And because the article was so well-written:

  1. The Concept: In her post Rosenkrantz features seven names with strong literary provenance which have been around a long time and whose popularity has been increasing in popularity in recent years.
  2. The Seven Names: Atticus, Beckett, Dashiel, Holden, Huckleberry, Lincoln and Scarlett.
  3. The Literary/Historical Background: Rosenkrantz explains the importance of the books from which the names come, and she describes the protagonists in a manner that sheds light on kind of role model or inspiration their names might provide for a child.
  4. Why These Names Now: Rosenkrantz references popularity data and media exposure which she uses to “explain” the relevance of the names, now, and provide reasons for expectant parents to consider the names now.

My Take on the Names

Names I Like a Lot: Lincoln and Beckett

Names Worth Considering: Scarlett and Holden

Names with Practical Problems: Atticus, Dashiel and Huckleberry

Atticus: The bad news: This ancient Latin name is stiff, formal and serious; it lacks versatility in that there is no obvious nickname or familiar form  to use when you are tucking your baby into bed or when teammates on the soccer team are chatting after a tough game. It’s likely to be a puzzler for a blind date. The good news: I suppose the name will become more appropriate when your son studies classics or law.                                                                                                                                                                  –Dashiel: The bad news: The spelling and pronunciation of this name are odd and likely to be a source of daily confusion. The good news: The name calls to mind exciting noir mysteries; and, Dash is a definitely dashing nickname. It’s on my list of “Cool Names for Boys.”                                                                                                                                                           –Huckleberry: The bad news: The long form of this food name doesn’t sound much like a name for a boy or a man. It lacks versatility. The long form seems informal and comical. And the nickname, Huck, rhymes with “uck” words that are likely to a source of teasing and derision. The good news: It’s associated with one of the greatest characters in American literature.

Overall: Unlike her Nameberry colleague, Pamela Redmond Satran, Rosenkrantz’s presentation is intelligent, interesting, thought provoking and presents some usable names likely function well for you and your child. But like her Nameberry colleague, Rosenkrantz doesn’t pay much attention to the practical aspects of baby-naming,  which is why three of the seven names are likely to prove awkward for use when you’re calming a crying baby or when your child is chatting with friends on the playground at recess. If a name doesn’t work well for your child, it’s likely to be dropped and replaced by a nickname that works better than Atticus, Huck, or Dashiel. That’s what happens when you don’t pay attention to the practical issues.