We did it last summer. The neighbors are doing it this summer. It’s as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July: the long-distance move. The snow might still be on the ground, but I can hear the birds chirping, and they aren’t the only ones looking for a new nest. I can tell by the posts on my neighborhood moms’ group that many human families will soon be following suit. (Note to people who aren’t moving soon: just skip the next part and read the bit about Neville, a great picture book. Then go back to Facebook and thank the heavens you don’t have to move.)
Let’s be honest, nobody likes moving. But let’s be honest again, I only thought I knew how hard moving was when my husband and I moved from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest. And then from the Pacific Northwest to the South. But I didn’t know, not until we moved from the South to the Midwest. It wasn’t the locations that mattered so much, but the cargo: We now had two kids. Things were about to get interesting.
And what do I do when things with my kids get interesting? That’s right, I buy books. Here are some that were awesomely helpful during that time:
Author: Norton Juster
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Neville was our absolute favorite. It was recommended by a fellow children’s book lover in Nashville. Unlike the others mentioned here, it’s not meant as a how-to on moving, but just a great picture book that happens to be about a kid who just moved. A young boy ventures out into his new neighborhood fairly certain that his mom is WRONG when she hints that he might make friends just by walking down the street. But what happens when he stands on the corner and yells “NEVILLE!” at the top of his lungs? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. I’d recommend this one even if you aren’t moving.
Title: Berenstain’s Bears Moving Day
Authors/Illustrators: Stan and Jan Berenstain
Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day. Some people like these famous bears, some people don’t. And while I understand that they are long and a little preachy, especially by today’s trendy and zen-like picture books, I happen to love the Berenstain bears. And my kids do, too. They tell it like it is, and as long as you agree, they are the way to go. I think this one is an especially good one and definitely useful for a kid who is moving. Brother Bear is sad to leave his cave and his friends, but he learns to love his new tree house (the one we all know and love from other Berenstain Bear books) and find new friends.
Title: Boomer’s Big Day
Author: Constance W. McGeorge
Illustrator: Mary Whyte
Boomer’s Big Day might be my favorite, especially for the littlest set (2 and up). Boomer is a dog and the family doesn’t really play a major role at all in the story, which I think is nice — it really hits that kid-centric point of view where everything revolves around their world, they aren’t getting enough information, and they are trying to figure it out for themselves. Boomer’s troubles start when he can’t understand why he isn’t getting his morning walk, escalate when his favorite toys are boxed up, but disappear when he sees … his new backyard!
Title: Big Ernie’s New Home
Authors/Ilustrators: Teresa and Whitney Martin
Big Ernie’s New Home also uses an animal as the point-of-view character, although Big Ernie (a cat) has a friend (Little Henry) who is going through the move right beside him. A little more prose than Boomer, so it might be better for a slightly older crowd (4 and up perhaps) or littler ones who can sit through a story. (It’s not long by any means, but I guess it seems that way in comparison with other books–picture books are getting shorter and shorter every year. One thing I liked about Big Ernie is that it doesn’t make the assumption that the kid is moving to a better place, which some of the books do. It’s a different place (in this case Santa Fe) and doesn’t describe the new house.
Title: Usborne First Experiences: Moving House
Author: Anne Civardi
Illustrator: Stephen Cartwright
Usborne First Experiences: Moving House was a nice short read, factual but with a story about a family. This family is moving across town, so they are able to visit their house before they move. (This was not the case with us, and as a result my son didn’t request this one as much and I didn’t pick it up as much). The book also includes details about how their new house is getting painted and new carpets before they move in, and compares the old house, which is an attached row house, to the new house, a large stand-alone home. If those facts match up, or at least don’t conflict with your story too much, this — while not great literature — is a nice, quick book that’s easy to understand. I think there is also a sticker book that goes with this, so that could be good, too. Especially if you have a long car ride built into your move.
Title: The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide
Author: Gabriel Davis
Illustrator: Sue Dennen
The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide was great, and would have been even better had I taken more time to help my son fill out the answers. Part scrapbook, part tutorial on how to move, and part planner for your new town, this book will help calm kids’ anxieties by making them part of the process. I love the way it asks them to find things they are looking forward to doing in their new town. And it has ideas for saying goodbye to friends and keeping in touch.
If you are moving this Spring or Summer, good luck! Give your kids some concrete ideas. The Wizard of Why asked a thousand times how his bed was possibly going to fit into a truck, so we Googled it and found pictures of a bed going into a moving truck. I cannot tell you how much that helped! Plus, when are truck pictures a bad idea? Find a map of the city you are moving to and make some definite plans: is there a children’s museum you can go to? Find pictures on the web and show your kids. Or an art museum or a movie theatre … anything that gives them something to look forward to and convinces them that you are moving them to an actual place on the planet Earth with fellow human beings — and not to whatever dimension of outer space their toddler mind is imagining.
Have you moved with kids? Or are you planning on it? Share some of your advice or questions! And remember, you can find me at TheFamilyThatReadsTogether.com
Wendy Lawrence's posts are also available at TheFamilyThatReadsTogether.