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>Don’t call me "Baby."

>Elizabeth Bluemle has a great lament up about not trusting–and feeding–children’s imaginations. The saddest line: “It used to be that naming your new stuffed animal was practically a sacred rite of passage in plush parenting; now, if the tag on the creature doesn’t provide a pre-fab name, we’re seeing kids at a loss, calling their new dog ‘Puppy’ and their new cat ‘Kitty.'”

(Of course, my little brother did call his blankie “Tag,” cause that’s where he clutched it.)

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. rockinlibrarian says:

    >I call EVERYTHING by what it is, even if it already has a name! I even call my husband and kids variations on "boy" and "girl." It's a terrible bad habit.

    But I think when I actually was a kid, I was better at naming things, too.

  2. Natasha @ Maw Books says:

    >Oh dang it. Both my little boys call their teddies . . . . teddy.

  3. J. L. Bell says:

    >I suspect the patterns are different for different ages. My first kanga was Kanga, my first elephant Elephant, and so on. Eventually I became a more sophisticated creator of characters—Pablo, the French-speaking bear from the Pyrenees, for instance.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >My dear Aunt Kate brought me a hand-carved doll from Switzerland. It had a woollen dress, white cotton slip and panties, neat little shoes and socks. And I gave it the name WOODEN. That was perhaps 50 years ago. It all depemds on the child.

  5. Monica Edinger says:

    >I agree with J. L. Bell. My fourth graders often have to be reined in when they come up with sillier and wilder names for their stories. (Sometimes they are appropriate and sometimes they are just…silly.)

    My sister called me Gonquin (fraid I'm having to do my best spelling it) till she could pronounce my name.

  6. Jen Fos - Top Banana says:

    >My daughter comes up with names I have never heard and can't even spell. Her newest addition is Lushy. But my youngest has "Baby" and "Puppy." Maybe it is age, maybe individual kids style. Overall, I am not too worried.

  7. Anonymous says:

    >Yeah. I think grandparents have always picked lame books for their grandkids. Some kids have always been better at picking out names than other kids. I agree that much in our world deadens imagination, but nothing Bleumle talked about seemed particularly NEW.

  8. Anonymous says:

    >I shouldn't be bitchy, but does it seem to you that some booksellers are a little too pi? The parents don't know how to say, "That looks totally uninteresting," so they say, "I think he'd like something set in the country." What they mean is, "Do you have something that involves monster trucks?"

    When Grandparents buy a book, they want a sure thing. Or they want something they love themselves– because they naively think that if they love it, their grandkids will. They don't want something that a kid "should" like.

    I've been on both sides of this conversation. When I was the bookseller, I always thought Stupid Parents. As the parent, I think, Idiot Bookseller, why do you think you know my kid better than I do?

  9. Misrule says:

    >OK, Not Wanting to be Bitchy but Not Brave Enough to Post Under My Own Name Anonymous, where did Elizabeth say anything about "stupid" grand/parents? Anyone who has truly worked as a specialist children's bookseller will have encountered these kinds of Literal (note: not Stupid) requests. I've had requests for books about a parent dying, only to have the recommended title knocked back because it was the "wrong disease". That may be about wanting a "sure thing" but it's also an entirely wrong-headed thing on the part of the caring but misguided carer.

    And booksellers like Elizabeth have years of experience in finding the right book for the occasion that frankly, most grand/parents don't. No-one said the bookseller knows your kid better than you. They know the BOOKS better than you, which is why you came in and asked the question in the first place. If you don't want advice, bugger off to Borders.

  10. Anonymous says:

    >My son had plush chickens called Fairy Huba, Mayjen Hen and Chicken Chop. And an imaginary dog called Duvet.

    This was when he was 3.

    By the time he was 5 he was naming toys Puppy, Kitty, Horsie. When it first happened I asked him why he had changed his naming style and he said "I want him (it was a horse) to have a serious name." – Daphne

  11. >I know I am late to this conversation but we held a "Name the Squirrel" contest in November. Which name had the most entries? Squirrel. We did have some very clever names but most were descriptions rather than names.

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