We’re moving! GirlChild is happy about Daddy’s new job and moving closer to extended family, but she is sad about leaving behind her friends and our home here. (She’ll be even sadder when she realizes that winter is colder and lasts a lot longer where we’re going!) As I’m sure that many families choose to move during the summer while school is out, I thought that books about moving and saying bye-bye would be relevant this month!
Time to Say Bye-Bye, by Maryann Cocca-Leffler (2012, toddler/preschool): This story follows a toddler through her day which is filled with bye-byes…bye-byes at the park, bye-byes at Grandma’s, even bye-byes after dinner and bath! “Time to go!” is a phrase most toddlers hate, and getting to say bye-bye to all their favorite parts of an activity is a way to help them transition to new fun activities during the daily routine. The focus is a little young for preschoolers, but GirlChild loved this book anyway…perhaps because she forms unnatural attachments to every “friend” with whom she has a chance meeting! 😉
Bye-Bye Time, by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marieka Heinlen (2008–toddler/preschool): This board book is a cute way for a family to talk to little ones about what to do when their parents have to leave them somewhere (like a babysitter’s or school). The feelings a young child might experience are described, and coping mechanisms are reviewed and shown. A note to parents and caregivers is included at the end of the book to give tips for saying good-bye.
A New Home, by Tim Bowers (2002–early elementary): In this easy reader, Matt the squirrel moves to a new home but is disappointed because he has no friends there. When Pat the squirrel loses her new hat and Matt returns it to her, they become friends. Recommended for beginning readers in kindergarten and first grade, this book doesn’t offer a lot of helpful advice or give a small child an understanding of what it will be like to move (except that you might be lonely at first), but it might be a starting point for a conversation (and give a new reader a chance to practice, too).
Topsy and Tim Move House, by Jean and Gareth Adamson (1997–preschool/early elementary)–When Topsy and Tim’s family moves house, their cat escapes from the car on their way from their old home to their new one, and the twins are very sad. Dad has a good idea, though, and a quick trip back to their old house locates the missing cat and makes the move happy once again. Some vocabulary–like “removal men” instead of “moving men” and “move house” instead of just “move” will be unfamiliar to most American children, but GirlChild was able to figure out what the different words meant by context, especially in the animated version. (This book is not readily available in the States (really cost-prohibitive!)–I don’t know about the UK–but I linked the animated version on YouTube to the title so anyone can enjoy it!)
A New Room for William, by Sally Grindley, illustrated by Carol Thompson (2000–preschool/early elementary): William tells his mother that he likes his old room better when they move to a new house. He misses his jungle gym and the garden he and his dad had. Even a waving boy in the next yard doesn’t cheer him up, and the new shadows at night in his new room frighten him. As he and his mother fix up his new room (he chooses new dinosaur wallpaper instead of what he had in his old room) and he gets to know the boy next door, though, he starts to feel better. The night when his room is finally finished, he sleeps soundly in his new room after his mother assures him that his dad will let him choose the wallpaper for his room in his father’s new house, too. While this book is clearly about moving to a new home because of a divorce (though that is never in the forefront), the feelings William displays about what he misses about his old home and his ambivalence toward his new one is relevant for any moving situation.
The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day, by Stan and Jan Berenstain (1981, preschool/early elementary): This “prequel” of sorts tells of when Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Brother Bear (before he had any sisters) used to live “in a hillside cave halfway up Great Bear Mountain at the far edge of Bear Country.” Although they enjoy their life, some things are hard living on a mountain, and Papa announces (suddenly, as Papa often does) that they are moving, and they immediately begin to pack despite Brother Bear’s reluctance. He doesn’t see any good reason to go, and he’ll miss his friends (since his parents assure him that his books and toys will be brought along)! The tree house they buy is a fixer-upper, and their new neighbors come to greet them as they stand dreaming about how it will look when it’s repaired. The welcome they receive makes them happy in their new home. As with most of the “first experiences” Berenstain Bears books, this one realistically depicts some of the challenges a new experience can bring as well as what can make it better.
Where I Live, by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Matt Phelan (2007–elementary): Diana uses free verse poetry to describe what her life is like living across the street from her best friend, Rose, when her father loses his job, and when the family moves far away to live with her Grandpa Joe. Although she is very sad to be leaving her home and her friend, Diana discovers that there are always opportunities wherever you go. Because of the spare text and expressive pencil illustrations, this book makes a good title on this topic for reluctant middle to upper elementary readers and would be enjoyable to any elementary-aged reader, especially those who like to express themselves in verse.
Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Moving Day, by Meg Cabot (2008–middle to upper elementary): Allie Finkle has a lot going on: finding out her family is moving across town to a historic fixer-upper, alienating her best friend (who cries too much anyway), and learning that there may in fact be a zombie hand living in the attic of her new house. This 9-year-old fourth-grader responds in the most logical way possible: by doing everything in her power to get some control on the situation (which somehow includes liberating the turtle at the local Chinese restaurant…) by keeping a list of rules (and other unconventional tactics). I’m pretty sure most grown-ups will be a little bit horrified by Allie’s preoccupation with the kid who got hit by a car while riding his skateboard without a helmet (and his brains), but, on the whole, Allie Finkle is a realistic representation of a straight-forward fourth-grader with a lot on her mind. (Squeamish parents or parents of squeamish children might want to give their young readers a heads-up about the brains thing–I found it kind of macabre–but the narrator’s feelings and reactions to moving and the changes it brings might make the book a worthwhile read for them anyway.) First of a series.
If you’re interested in finding books about moving in your own library, try the subject heading “Moving, Household — Fiction” and for “bye-bye” books, try “Change (Psychology) — Juvenile literature.”
(For parents, this online article from the August 2012 issue of Parents magazine might be helpful: Smooth Move, by Caroline Schaefer. It also includes some suggestions for books to read before the move.)