Most classes have a few students with unusual names. If a child has a hard name for others to pronounce or that they have been teased about their name, it can add anxiety to meeting new people at the start of the school year. Chrysanthemum can help reassure students that unique names are special and help springboard discussion on kindness expectations for your students.


Chrysanthemum loved her name until she started school, and some of the kids teased her about it, then she thought it was absolutely dreadful. When they all find out that their favorite teacher thinks the name is absolutely perfect, they decide it is a very special name.

Read Aloud Questions

Before Reading

  • What is a chrysanthemum?
  • Looking at the cover, do you think this book is fiction or nonfiction? How do you know?
  • What do you predict this story will be about?

During Reading

  • What did Chrysanthemum like about her name?
  • What does the author mean by the words Chrysanthemum wilted and bloomed?
  • How did Chrysanthemum’s thoughts about her name change?

After Reading

  • What were some of the ways students were unkind to Chrysanthemum?
  • How do you think you would have felt if you were Chrysanthemum?
  • How did Chrysanthemum feel about her name by the end of the story? What made her change her mind?

Connecting Standards to Chrysanthemum

Letter Writing

Chrysanthemum loved how her name looked when written with ink on an envelope. Students can write a letter to tell her what they like or do not like about their name.


Have students alphabetize the names of all of the students from the story.

Informational Text

The main character and her teacher both have the names of flowers. Provide a list of different kinds of flowers and let students choose one to research. They can also find photos or draw pictures of their flowers. This project can make a great bulletin board!

Chrysanthemum Blends
Chrysanthemum Writing
Chrysanthemum Personal Connections Writing

Learn More About Kevin Henkes

The author, Kevin Henkes, won the 2020 Children’s Literature Legacy Award for making a significant and lasting contribution to literature for children. You can find more about him and his books on his website. There are also videos where he shares his writing process.

If you’re looking for more activities for this book, check out the Learning Through Literature book companion in the Resource Ranch store.

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Rhonda is the author of Resource Ranch. Most of her classroom experience has been in early elementary. She has also taught Title I Reading, ESL, and gifted students. She is certified as a Texas teacher in grades 1-8 and as a K-12 librarian.