Many parents today are turning to their favorite childhood storybook characters for baby name inspiration. This includes fictional kid heroes in children's books, as well as older characters in stories beloved by teens, like Holden in Catcher in the Rye and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.
Here are nine charming characters's names that are particularly inspiring parents as of late.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first introduced to the world way back in 1865, and has found fame in many different ways over the decades. Disney made an animated version in the 1950s, but a live action version featuring Whoopi Goldberg and Ben Kingsley aired on NBC in 1999 and introduced the story to even more parents. Alice has climbed nearly 300 places in the past decade and now lies just outside the Top 100. Over the coming decade, she may well regain the Top 10 status she held a century ago.
The title character of E.B. White’s classic Charlotte’s Web was not the little girl -– her name was Fern -– or her beloved pig, Wilbur, but rather the spider who teaches them the true meaning of life. The book was written in the 1950s and the animated film with Charlotte voiced by Debbie Reynolds released in 1973, which today’s generation of moms and dads saw during the VCR era. A new version starring Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts, and Oprah Winfrey was released in 2006, and the name Charlotte reached new heights.
Eloise at the Plaza was first written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hillary Knight in the 1950s. With the reissue of the original book plus the publication of new titles, Eloise gained wider fame among a new generation of children –- who grew up to be today’s parents, reviving the antiquated and charming name for their daughters.
Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, first published in the 1880s, was made into many films over the years, including one in 1993 starring Elijah Wood that undoubtedly caught the notice of many of today’s parents. Twain named his character Huckleberry reportedly because of the fruit’s humble origins and resistance to cultivation, but few real life babies were given the name until it was used by two sets of celebrity parents –- Brad and Kimberly Williams-Paisley along with the Bear Gryllses – in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
Madeline has had a longer popularity trajectory than many of the other names on this list, beginning her ascent in 1980 and in the US Top 100 for two decades. Ludwig Bemelmans’ books featuring the little girl who lives in a convent school in Paris were first published in the 1930s, and an animated television series and live-action film in the 1990s introduced the Madeline world to today’s parents.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a relative latecomer to the storybook scene, first published in 1988 but gaining widespread attention via the charming film starring Mara Wilson released in 1996. Today, Matilda is a hit play on Broadway, giving the name a long future on the charts. It just reentered the U.S. Top 1,000 in 2008 after a 50-year hiatus, now standing at Number 645 but in the Top 100 in England, Wales, Germany, and Sweden.
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are was first published in 1963, and the name of its little boy hero Max started climbing in the U.S. in the early 80s, about the time of the first readers of the book began naming babies of their own. A 2009 film brought new attention to the story and the name, and today Max lies just outside the U.S. Top 100 and is an international hit, solidly in the Top 50 throughout Great Britain and also in Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden.
Huck Finn’s more buttoned-up pal Tom Sawyer has inspired a new generation of baby names of his own based on his surname, an occupational name meaning woodcutter. Sawyer is now just outside the Top 100 for boys and at Number 344 for girls, though the character on "Lost" has undoubtedly inspired at least as many Sawyers as the classic Mark Twain storybook boy, who famously tricked the other children into wanting to paint the fence.