Last fall, a follower asked me to recommend some books to read with her children to help prepare them for an upcoming move. I gathered some ideas (with many recommendations from you all!) and passed along a small list. I continued to add to it, though, trying to read through some of your recommendations. Then, this spring, a few other friends asked me for the same list. So, I decided it was time to put some effort into it and create my official list of recommended books about moving!
Our Favorite Books About Moving:
Age ranges listed below are publishers’ recommendations, unless I’ve noted otherwise. Remember, these are general guidelines — as always, you know your child best!
Alexander, Who’s Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser– Most children already know and love Alexander. And, he’s just as delightful and endearing in this sequel, where we see his family getting ready to move “a thousand miles away” for his dad’s new job. Needless to say, Alexander isn’t very happy about it… I think many children preparing for a move, especially a seemingly big move, will identify with the emotional roller coaster Alexander rides in this book. Ages 5-8, though our 3.5-year-old enjoys the Alexander books, too!
Big Ernie’s New Home: A Story for Children Who Are Moving by Teresa and Whitney Martin– Young children going through a move but who are having trouble admitting to their feelings about it may benefit from Big Ernie, as Ernie, the family cat, is the one who has trouble adjusting. Children may feel Ernie gives them a less threatening way to talk about their emotions related to the move. The Martins wrote this after moving their own family, including 2 children, and included a Note to Parents written by a clinical psychologist. This note walks parents through “The Child’s View,” “Explaining the Move,” and more. Ages 2-6.
Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jonathan Bean– For your younger audiences, Bad Bye, Good Bye is a wonderful book to acknowledge that moving days can be very, very hard for children. We journey with the boy and his family through the “bads” of preparing physically for a move, through the observations during the car ride of the move, to the “news and goods” once the family has arrived at their new house. The simplicity of the text (just a few words per page) makes this accessible for the youngest audiences, but also allows for deep conversation and observation with older children. Ages 4-8, though likely great for younger, too.
Mabel and Sam at Home: One Brave Journey in Three Adventures by Linda Urban, illustrated by Hadley Hooper– This opens with Mabel and Sam already at their new house, trying to find some peace and refuge amidst the movers, boxes, and chaos. They start by pretending a cardboard box is a boat, and life is fun and happy, until Sam wants to get out of the boat. Mabel tells him it might be dangerous, Sam points out that they’ve been “on land before,” and Mabel touchingly tells him, “It was different land. Don’t worry. We are safe on board.” Our hearts go out to Mabel, knowing what is behind her fears. This book has 3 delightful short stories about Mabel, Sam, and how they use their imagination during their transition period after their move. Ages 4-8.
Home is a Window by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard, illustrated by Chris Sasaki– This brand new picture book, just released in April 2019, gives us all a wonderful reminder of what makes a home, even if your home as you know it has to change. I especially love the illustrations in this one, and if you read it, be sure to check out the story told through the endpapers, too! The digitally-rendered illustrations are rich and vibrant, even when the color palette changes on the pages showing the actual move. Sasaki’s illustrations also depict a multiracial family, without making that the focus of the book. Ages 4-8.
The Snow Lion by Jim Helmore, illustrated by Richard Jones– Though this story is specifically about a little girl named Caro, who has just moved to a new house with her mum, it’s also just a great story about making friends. Yes, Caro is in the position to make new friends because she’s in a new place, but I think this one would resonate with many, many children, whether they’ve just moved or not. Helmore’s very neatly creates this story around Caro’s imaginary friend, the Snow Lion, who is the support and listening ear that gives Caro the courage, and sometimes push, to get out and make friends. I love that an imaginary friend rather than a parent plays this role, and I love that Caro learns to step out on her own, rather than wait for friends to come to her. Ages 2 and up.
A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson– If your child knows, loves, and identifies with The Kissing Hand, then you should just go ahead and buy this one for an upcoming move. Chester Racoon is back, this time preparing to move to a new home with his mother and his little brother. Of note, Penn mentions on the inside flap that many teachers have found this book helpful to read to their young students at the end of the school year, as they start to think about moving to a new classroom for the next year. Ages 3-8.
A New Home by Tania de Regil– Unique on this list, de Regil uses a shared voice to tell the story of two families who are moving to new and very different (but maybe not so different after all…) cities. Most spreads consist of illustrations of a boy getting ready to leave New York City and move to Mexico City on the left, and pictures of a girl moving from Mexico City to New York City on the right. These illustrations are connected by one simple sentence that starts on the left side of the page and ends on the right (“And I’ll also miss / playing with my friends” for example). I love that de Regil makes universal the fears and worries that many children have when they move somewhere new, no matter where they are and where they’re going. She also includes a 3 pages of information about New York City and Mexico City in the back! This book was also just released in April, 2019. Ages 4-8.
Yard Sale by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Lauren Castillo– Bunting and Castillo work together to tell an incredibly emotional story, with a takeaway important for everyone to remember, whether you’re getting ready to move or not. In Yard Sale, Callie and her family are having a yard sale to sell most of their possessions before they downsize to a smaller house. Though not all who are moving are moving because they’re downsizing, everyone can appreciate the reminder that possessions do not make a home; the people you love do! Ages 3-7.
Florette by Anna Walker– You can read my full review here. Many children who have moved to a new place will identify with Mae, who just doesn’t feel at home in a city so different from her community before. Walker provides children with wonderful inspiration to take initiative to make their new communities feel more safe, familiar, and comfortable, as their old houses and neighborhoods did. And, her illustrations are absolutely stunning! Ages 4-8.
The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield– This one has been on my list to read for a really long time, and I’m so glad I checked it out while gathering books for my moving list! It’s just delightful! More a friendship story than a moving story, the lesson that your friends will never forget you even if you have to leave them addresses a very important concern that many children have when they are moving away from friends and community. Litchfield writes, “For the bear had not been forgotten. His friends weren’t angry, but proud. The bear realized that no matter where he went, or what he did, they would always be there, watching from afar.” This one’s worth reading, whether you’re moving or not! Ages 4-8.
Zola’s Elephant by Randall de Seve, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski– The last two books on my list are told more from the perspective of friends of people who have recently moved. Told from the point of view of Zola’s neighbor, we watch Zola move into her new house, moving in with a really, really big box. The narrator has decided that Zola must have an elephant inside the box, and since Zola has said elephant, she must not need new friends. The illustrations switch between showing what the narrator assumes must be happening in Zola’s house (Zola playing hide-and-seek with her elephant, for example), and the reality of Zola’s moving experience (Zola lying by herself on top of the giant box while two adults fumble with boxes of dishes in the background). In the end, the girl decides she just might have a few things in common with Zola after all– and she’s really curious to see this elephant…So she knocks on Zola’s door. Ages 4-7, though I think you could easily go older.
Ira Says Goodbye by Bernard Waber (not pictured above, as I couldn’t find out copy…)– Whereas we read Zola’s Elephant from the point of view of the new neighbor, Ira Says Goodbye brings the perspective of the friend that is being left when his neighbor (and best friend) moves. Ira Sleeps Over was a household favorite during my childhood, and we read Ira Says Goodbye to our own girls when some of their friends started to move away. It’s important to remember that moves can be hard on the friends left behind, too… Ages 4-7.
Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley– While I feel that some of the books listed above allow children to experience a range of strong, intense emotions about moving a little more freely than Before I Leave, I do love how this story shows the two friends continuing to connect after the hedgehog has moved away. While many stories assure children that their friends won’t forget them, this is a fairly abstract concept for young children. However, Bagley gives children a visual of sending each other letters and pictures, becoming pen pals, and staying connected through written word. I love teaching this strategy and then helping children implement it; in fact, our girls love sending mail to their friends who have moved away!
Izzy and Frank by Katrina Lehman, illustrated by Sophie Beer — Meet Izzy, a young girl who lives in a lighthouse on an island. As much as she loved “the wind what whistled and wailed,” she loves her best friend, a seagull named Frank, even more. Life is perfect on her island, until Izzy has to move and everything changes. Rather than full of adventures, explorations, and messes to make, Izzy finds that her new home in the city is small, full of sharp corners, and requires wearing shoes and standing in line. We feel weighed down by the heaviness in Izzy’s heart when one day, Frank shows up at Izzy’s bedroom window! Lehman has struck an amazing balance between a friendship story and a story of change, adjustments, and growth. We feel a sense of closure when Frank arrives, providing the emotional support Izzy needed to make new friends. His support and excitement around exploring the big city allow Izzy to embrace her new life, though she’ll never forget life on the island. This give-and-take friendship lends meaning for both the child who is moving and the child who is left behind, as both adjust to the changes and embrace new experiences.
Have you moved with children? What resources really helped your children wrap their minds around the changes they were experiencing?