For kids, that first home move is often a major ordeal, filled with uncertainty and no small amount of dread. Fortunately, the theme is a popular one among writers of children’s and young adult fiction, whose upbeat, diverting and reassuring takes on life’s first great upheaval help parents help kids through the rough parts.
Lori Woodring, a New York child psychologist and author of My Very Exciting, Sorta Scary, Big Move: A Workbook for Children Moving to a New Home, got the idea for her book when she and her husband moved from London to New York with four daughters under age 7.
“I thought, oh, I’ve really got this together because this is my field, I know my kids, I know what to do,” Woodring says. “It really threw me for a loop because my kids didn’t react the way I expected them to, both from a personality standpoint and in general when surprises came up along the way.”
According to Woodring, what most stresses young kids about a move is that they have no control. For them, familiarity and routine are essential, and moving upsets both. When they see moving stress hit their parents, that quickly trickles down as well.
For pre-teens and teens however, it’s all about the peer group. Their anxiety at losing their friends is compounded by their uncertainty over having the right clothes, personality and interests to make friends and fit in at the other end.
Being a therapist, Woodring designed an interactive workbook that walks kids ages 5-11 through the entire moving process, from coping with the emotions of change to how to say goodbye to old friends and hello to new.
“In therapy, we tend to use a lot of worksheets or drawing or interactive things, ’cos you get kids talking when they’re drawing,” she observes.
Here are 7 more books that can help make your child’s first move a positive one.
Toddler through Kindergarten
Moving House (Usborne First Experiences) By Anne Civardi and Michelle Bates; Stephen Cartwright, illus.
If your toddler is one who demands just the facts without the sale’s pitch, they’ll appreciate this wonderfully illustrated tale that walks them through the Sparks family’s move, from the rigors of boxing everything up and packing it into a truck to the equal challenge of unpacking at the other end. The happy ending of seeing siblings Sam and Sophie embrace having their own rooms and excited to meet new friends helps toddlers adjust to change. Don’t forget to look for the duck on each page!
Preschool to 2nd Grade
I Like Where I Am by Jessica Harper; G. Brian Karas, illus.
Rhyming text brings to life a 6-year-old’s initial protestations about moving, and ultimately his embrace of the pleasures of his new neighborhood, in a way that preschoolers understand. Here’s a sample: “’Cause I like my room and I like my school/And we live real close to a swimming pool./And my best friend lives around the block./Why move to a place called Little Rock/Anyway? Great fun to read or rap together out loud!
Kindergarten to 2nd Grade
Tooter Pepperday by Jerry Spinelli
If your child is dead-set against moving from the city to the country, they will readily bond with Tooter Pepperday, who’s not going quietly to Aunt Sally’s farm. I mean, what – no cable TV?!? No pizza delivery?!? No playground to hang with friends?!? The resourceful Tooter retains her city-girl resolve until her heart is captured by, of all things, an egg hatchling.
Grades 3rd to 6th Grade
Moving Day by Ralph Fletcher; Jennifer Emery, illus.
Is your pre-teen a little less literal and a bit more artistic in temperament? They’ll likely respond well to this tale of 12-year-old Fletch and his brother, who don’t take well to the news from Dad that the family is relocating from Massachusetts to Ohio. What’s the magic? Fletcher unfolds his tale in a series of poems that gently unfold the loss and longing of the move in a way that helps teens find hope and deal with displacement on an emotional level.
Grades 3rd to 6th
The Kid in the Red Jacket by Barbara Park
Young Howard Jeeter, the miffed kid on the cover, has already been through enough with his family’s move from Arizona to Massachusetts. The question now is, will he adapt, thrive and – most importantly – find friends in his new neighborhood and school? Trust me, the last thing Howard needs right now is a 6-year-old motormouth neighbor girl who wants to be his bestie. Laugh-out-loud funny for pre- and post-transit transplants.
The Essential Moving Guided Journal for Teens by Sara Elizabeth Boehm
Even if your teen doesn’t feel like talking about their fears, doubts and apprehensions about moving, they may take solace in writing or drawing their thoughts and feelings in this simple, well-designed journal. Other than a question at the top and a quote on the back of each page, this journal offers exactly what teens need most in transition: a way to look forward.
High school and pre-grads
And One More Thing Before You Go by Maria Shriver
Former California First Lady Maria Shriver offers sound advice to young women concerning what’s often the second major move in our lives: going off to college. Shriver’s wise and witty 10 rules alone provide an effective outline to keep college-bound coeds focused on a fulfilling and abundant life. Great fun to read together with your departing daughter.