It's crazy just how much your life experiences and memories can shape how you perceive baby names. I can't even tell you how many times my husband has nixed a name I love because of a past interaction or relationship with someone by the same name — and vice versa. That's why, in my humble opinion, baby names from children's literature are so lovely. They conjure images of precious protagonists and our favorite childhood companions, so what's not to love?
I've rounded up 10 girl and 10 boy names from all of my childhood favorites. Not only does each name have a sweet meaning behind it, but your little one will love hearing the stories about their namesake. Literary names are great conversation starters when your child is little: they can learn valuable lessons and morals alongside their special character, and you can highlight the character's strengths and weaknesses as teachable moments. Plus, once your kid is older, the name still serves a great purpose — they've got a "fun fact" ice breaker for life.
Without further ado, here are 20 excellent literary-inspired names. While I didn't include Hungry Caterpillar or Rainbow Fish, let the record show that I adore those books, too.
1. Harriet, 'Harriet the Spy'
I love the name Harriet all on its own, but I love it even more because of this character. Harriet is smart, determined, and brave, but she's also willing to swallow her pride and apologize when necessary. I'd say these are all great qualities for a child.
2. Max, 'Where the Wild Things Are'
If your child is as imaginative as Max in Where the Wild Things Are, you've gotten lucky. This iconic children's book follows Max's make-believe journey to the island of Wild Things, and is a darling story to steal a name from.
3. Sophie, 'The BFG'
When Roald Dahl needed a name for the compassionate, brave, and creative little girl in this story, he decided to name her for his own mother. What a compliment, right? Sophie is the perfect name for a bubbly, independent little girl.
4. Harold, 'Harold and the Purple Crayon'
Perusing the pages of this book while making this list brought back so many fond memories. Harold is incredibly imaginative (and artistic!), who creates a world of his own with his purple crayon. It's truly an adorable story, and would make for an adorable baby. Plus, "Harry" is a sweet nickname.
5. Alice, 'Miss Rumphius'
When Alice Rumphius' aunt tells her that she must make the world more beautiful, she takes it to heart. She dedicates her life to planting lupines (a lovely flowering plant) everywhere she went. With this name, your daughter is sure to make the world more beautiful than she found it.
6. Jonas, 'The Giver'
If you somehow haven't read The Giver, I highly recommend you do that now and you'll see why I love this sweet name so much. Jonas is incredibly wise and observant for an 11/12-year-old, and he is thoughtful and compassionate in his words and actions. Your son would be lucky to have this name.
7. Beatrice, 'The Ramona Series'
Of course, Ramona is another option from this book — I personally just chose Beatrice because I love that name so dang much. Beatrice, or Beezus, as lil sis Ramona calls her, plays a pretty typical big sister role. She certainly gets irritated with Ramona, but tries to be nice whenever she can. It should also be noted that she's studious and pretty responsible — both great traits for a kid.
8. Amos, 'A Sick Day for Amos McGee'
OK, this is absolutely the sweetest book for my fellow animal lovers. Amos is a kind man who visits his animal friends at the zoo each and every day. When he comes down with a cold, the animals wonder where he is — and decide to make a visit to his own house! Name your son Amos, and let him adopt an animal... stat.
9. Charlotte, 'Charlotte's Web'
I'm definitely not a fan of spiders, but I am a huge fan of this one. The name Charlotte has gotten super popular, thanks in part to Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, but it's popular for a reason — it's beautiful. In this story, Charlotte tirelessly works to prevent her friend Wilbur from being slaughtered, and the name has been a synonym for kindness ever since.
10. Christopher Robin, 'Winnie-the-Pooh'
We all know the gang from Winnie-the-Pooh. Christopher Robin is a cheerful, loving, and helpful young child, and he's a lovely person to share a name with.
11. Frances, 'Bread and Jam for Frances'
Alright, so I guess Frances doesn't have that many notable strengths, but she's an adorable badger and the name is beautiful. I loved this book as a child, and your little Frances will, too.
12. Alexander, 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'
The name of the book is a little bit depressing, but that doesn't make it any less of a great story. While Alexander's day doesn't go how he'd like (no dessert, a trip to the dentist, and his least favorite dinner), he does learn that days like this are inevitable, and tomorrow will be better. That's not a bad lesson to teach early on.
13. Madeline, 'Madeline'
The Madeline series follows a young girl who attends boarding school in France. Though she is physically the tiniest girl at her school, she is consistently the most courageous. Your own Madeline will undoubtedly be small, but mighty.
14. Charlie, 'Charlie & the Chocolate Factory'
Charlie is the world's most lovable underdog. Despite coming from extremely humble beginnings, he wins the opportunity of a lifetime and ultimately changes the course of his entire family's life. He is grateful for whatever he has, and always chooses to do the right thing.
15. Stella or Luna, 'Stellaluna'
Stellaluna has a rough start in life after falling out of her mother's nest, but things look up when she is adopted by a bird family. Of course, their differences become apparent before too long, and Stellaluna realizes she is not one of them — but she also realizes that family doesn't necessarily mean blood. The names Stella and Luna are both beautiful, and reminiscent of this sweet story.
16. Peter, 'The Snowy Day'
This is an awesome book for two big reasons. First, it's about a child's fascination with a fresh snowfall, which is a beautiful thing in itself. Second, it features an African American boy which, in 1962, was simply not common. Name your child Peter, and he's destined to make his own statements in life.
17. Matilda, 'Matilda'
This name has gotten quite popular in recent years, particularly in the U.K., but I've loved it ever since reading Roald Dahl's 1988 novel by the same name. Matilda was an extremely intelligent child who had to overcome really terrible circumstances, and there's no better underdog story. Plus, according to Nameberry, Matilda means "battle-mighty." Fitting for the Matilda in this novel and perhaps your daughter?
18. Ferdinand, 'The Story of Ferdinand'
The Story of Ferdinand is one of my all-time favorites because of its message about toxic masculinity. It reminds children that being a boy doesn't mean you have to be tough and ready to fight — instead, do what you love to do. Ferdinand is certainly not a common name in the U.S., but why not bring it back?
19. Eloise, 'Eloise'
If you want a daughter brimming with confidence, this is the girl to name her after. Eloise is super smart, imaginative, and self-assured, and these books are insanely entertaining. Plus, it's simply a gorgeous name.
20. James, 'James & the Giant Peach'
In this book, James is described as kind, and resourceful. He also loves making friends. James is a beautiful, classic name on its own, and all the sweeter when used with this imaginative kid in mind.