I grew up without moving once during my entire childhood. So, as a military spouse and mother, my children and I are learning to say goodbyes, switch houses frequently, and embrace new communities together.
One way kids can process their emotions and questions is through reading. Books offer an opportunity to discuss steps of a move, begin difficult conversations, and process emotions for the whole family. Whether you check picture books out from the library to read together or purchase a book as a gift to a military child facing an upcoming move, these children’s books are sure to resonate with a child facing a move due to a PCS or ETS.
PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT CHANGE
Augustine by Mélanie Watt follows an adorable penguin who is moving from the South to the North Pole due to his Dad’s job. It is perfect for the littlest military kids; art pages with small squares contain moving items like suitcases and seatbelts opposite of the story illustrations.
Another one for toddlers and small children is Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Jonathan Bean. This sparse rhyming text follows a child’s emotions during a moving day from the sadness when the movers come, to the boredom of the car trip, to the hopefulness of arriving.
New in 2021 for elementary school-aged children is Joanna Rowland’s book When Things Are Hard, Remember. Illustrated by Marcela Calderón, it explores in lyrical language how to have hope when going through a major life change as a child, like a move.
Is your child moving away from their best friend? Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away addresses this topic through a girl who says goodbye to her best friend when her family leaves their apartment building. Written by Meg Medina and illustrated by Sonia Sanchez, this book has a diverse cast of characters and would be lovely to gift friends who have to separate due to a PCS.
CHILDREN’S CLASSICS ABOUT MOVING
Several series that parents may remember from their own childhood have produced books on moving as a child, providing a nostalgic storytime. Alexander, Who’s Not (I Mean It, Do You Hear Me?) Going to Move by Judith Viorst is a companion to the beloved Alexander and the No Good, Terrible, Very Bad Day.
The beloved Berenstain Bears have Moving Day to walk families through the process.
Audrey Penn’s Chester the Raccoon series is all about bravery and includes A Kiss Goodbye. The entire collection is perfect for children dealing with change and anxiety.
BOOKS FOR EMERGING AND INDEPENDENT READERS
For kids learning to read on their own, several books in various early reader series deal with moving, and a young child might enjoy their own copies to read on the trip. Selections include Scholastic Reader We Just Moved!, Amber Brown is Not a Crayon from Paula Danziger’s chapter book series, and Henry and Mudge and Annie’s Big Move from the sweet easy reader series Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant.
Several middle-grade novels (books intended for children ages 8-12) deal with big changes. New Kid by Jerry Craft is an award-winning graphic novel that follows a student changing schools while exploring racism and socioeconomic status. Eleven and Holding was written by veteran Mary Penney and follows a girl frustrated by all the changes in her family: her Dad’s separation from the Army, his mysterious disappearance from home, a baby brother, and the death of her grandmother. Neither book deals with a major move, but tackles issues that may come from an ETS or major life changes for older children.
MILITARY SPECIFIC STORIES
Military spouse, teacher, and mom Brooke Mahaffey wrote the story I’m a Dandelion: A PCS Story for Military Children. Illustrated by Lidiia Mariia Nyz, the story follows one family through their PCS move, explaining each step for children.
Military Kids Speak is a collection of essays for upper elementary and middle school-aged military children that discusses a variety of challenges that come with being a military kid, such as moves and deployments. Essays come from both current (at the time of printing, 2011) military kids and famous people who were military kids, like Mark Hamill.
Former military kid Shermaine Perry-Knights wrote the book I Move a Lot and That’s Okay to highlight some of her experiences moving and living overseas. She wanted military kids to be able to ask questions about the moving process but also come to see each move as a chance for positive adventures. Her book is available at Military Family Books. You can listen to our interview with the author here!
The Military Child Chronicles has a new series to help military kids. Mission: My First PCS explores the challenges of moving, and encourages young military kids to see each move as an adventure. The author, Athens Pellegrino, is an Air Force spouse who has two military kids of her own. After seven PCS moves, she wrote the book to encourage strength and resiliency among military families.
For children who enjoy writing or drawing, interactive journals or books may be the perfect gift to help them process their feelings for a big move.
I See Me! produces gifts and books that can be personalized with names and pictures. Their My USA Road Trip is perfect for children who are about to drive across the country, and they have available matching gifts such as a board game and puzzles that can help children learn about the states they are traveling through or moving to.
The award-winning, My Very Exciting, Sorta Scary, Big Move: A Workbook for Children Moving to a New Home by Lori Attanasio Woodring, Ph.D. and illustrated by Timm Joy, is an interactive journal that takes kids through the entire moving process with tips, strategies, and activities. Similarly, Kids on the Move: A Relocation Workbook by blogger, mother, and teacher Leah Moorefield Evans, with illustrations by Cathy Stevens Pratt contains activities to record memories and get children excited about making new ones and might be particularly helpful for overseas moves.
All of the books mentioned above can be found of Amazon. Search by title or author to help your military child prepare for their next PCS move!
Meredith Flory is a military spouse, homeschool mom, and freelance writer currently living in Texas. She has a master’s degree in children’s literature, and her writing has appeared in publications such as Military Families, The Mary Sue, and Augusta Family Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or check out her website for more info.