When it comes to major life changes, moving is one of the top stressors. However, moving is also a natural part of life. It is estimated that a person moves 11.7 times in their lifetime.
I vividly recall the summer I turned seven and had to leave the only home I had ever known. We talked about moving for my dad’s job and what it would mean to leave friends.
While I was excited about the prospects of looking for a new home, I still remember the sting of sadness when I realized I would have to leave friends and knowing that things would no longer be the same. If memory serves, the entire process of navigating my first move took at least a year to process and fully adjust. It takes time.
So, how do we best help kids navigate a move? Talk about it, yes. Allow for their feelings, absolutely. And (of course) read about it!
May these 11 picture books ease you through the inevitable growing pains that come with any move.
Picture Books About Moving
A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts
Hee Jun is a young boy growing up with his family in Korea. His grandmother (who lives with his family) is a teacher and a master gardener.
At school in Korea, Hee Jun is just another ordinary kid doing ordinary things. Then his father accepts a position in West Virginia, and the family packs their life into boxes and suitcases to move into a tall yellow house on the other side of the world.
Soon Hee Jun notices his grandmother’s sparkle is gone, and at school, he feels different. As time passes, we watch Hee Jun and his grandmother adjust to their new life. Over time they discover a piece of their old home (a beautiful flower) that also grows in America.
Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood
The story opens under a cloud of gray, rain pouring, and movers taking away boxes. A family piles into a stuffed car and departs, leaving behind the familiar and driving to an unknown future.
Along the way, they rest at a motel, enjoying a break from the car ride with time to splash in the pool. They pass diners and wheat fields, endless billboards, and street signs until the family eventually arrives in their new town.
This sparsely worded rhyming book perfectly captures the mood and movement of moving as a child.
Bruce’s Big Move by Ryan T. Higgins
Fed up sharing his home with three mice—who happen to take up a lot of room and make endless messes—Bruce packs up his belongings and four adopted geese children in search of solace elsewhere.
Per Bruce’s poor luck, he runs into difficulty finding a suitable house for himself and his feathered offspring. Once they finally locate a suitable house, Bruce is happy, but the geese are not.
This cheeky tale about making the most of our circumstances and featuring the beloved curmudgeon Bruce never fails to entertain both adults and kids. Honestly, how can you not love Bruce?
Chee-Kee: A Panda in Bearland by Sujean Rim
When the Loo family moves to Bearland, Chee-Kee, the youngest panda, can’t help noticing how his family does things differently (like using chopsticks instead of a fork or wearing a sunhat instead of sunglasses). And while the citizens of Bearland try to be welcoming, sometimes they have clumsy and seemingly strange interactions with the newcomers.
As Chee-Kee tries to blend in, he still feels apart. Until one day, he unexpectedly comes to the rescue and learns to make friends in his new home.
This book is another wonderful book for those who have immigrated to the United States (or elsewhere) and finishes with a wonderful author’s note.
Evelyn Del Ray is Moving Away by Meg Medina
Daniela and Evelyn live next door to each other. Outside, a moving truck is surrounded by heaps of boxes waiting as the big day has finDaniela and Evelyn live next door to each other. Outside, a moving truck is surrounded by heaps of boxes waiting as the big day has finally arrived. But first, the girls race through the nearly empty apartment, playing one last game of hide-and-seek and turning a still-empty box into a city bus, driving around a make-believe city.
When Mami calls for the girls to say their final goodbyes, they twirl around and collapse to the floor. The reality that “tomorrow everything will be different” finally settles in. The girls hug hard as they part, and at the end, we see an older Daniela who has still managed to stay connected to her first and best amiga (friend).
Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! by Cori Doerrfeld
Two friends experience the world together. From observing nature to seeking out new adventures. Together they notice that each ending leads to another beginning. Yet when it comes time for the friends to part permanently, readers will see the shifting emotions expertly conveyed through illustrations and text.
From the creator of The Rabbit Listened, this is another example of how picture books can so accurately reflect the enormous emotions facing little people.
Julia’s House Moves On by Ben Hatke
Julia’s house (which rests on the back of a large turtle) is suddenly uprooted when it spots a love interest out to sea, which it decides to pursue. Determined to make the most of the unexpected, Julia calms the numerous lost creatures she lives with by announcing, “I have a plan for this!”
However, it soon becomes apparent that Julia is simply navigating a series of twists and turns with the optimism of a determined doer.
In truth, I am impressed with Julia’s chutzpah every time we read this. (Also, be sure to read the first Julia book if you haven’t already—no doubt it will become a fast family favorite.)
Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead
With their car toppled high with belongings and the inside bursting with things and people, a family winds through the woods and over the bridge. At last, they arrive at their new house. Peter is not impressed.
The next day Peter and his dog Harold create an imposing figure out of blankets and pillows. They call him Lenny, Guardian of the Bridge. Soon, however, Peter feels that Lenny might be lonely, so he builds a companion that he names Lucy.
Days pass, and a new friend, a human friend named Millie, appears. Together the band of real and imagined friends keeps a lookout over the bridge, keeping the bad things at bay and looking for the interesting things that are certain to come. A layered look at the complexities of moving.
Paper Planes by Jim Helmore
Mia and Ben are best friends. Their favorite thing to do, no matter the season, is to make paper airplanes. One day Ben shares the terrible news that his family is moving far away to a new home. On the day of departure, the friends swap planes and vow never to forget one another.
When Mia accidentally crashes and breaks the plane Ben gave her, she goes to bed feeling hurt and lonely. But when the plane comes together again and grows bigger, Mia clambers aboard and sails through the night sky only to discover Ben is also soaring over the night sky. In the morning, the dream vanishes, and Mia discovers a package from her old friend.
This book is a lovely ode to shared hobbies and continued friendships even when things change.
The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl
Leo lives in an old blue house with his dad. Though the paint is peeling and the neighborhood is changing, Leo loves the blue house’s cozy corners, warm kitchen, and character. But eventually, father and son pack their belongings and move into a new home, which isn’t like the blue house at all.
As father and son navigate feelings of loss, they make a plan and decide to make a place where the blue house can physically be part of their new home as a painting on the bedroom wall.
Yard Sale by Eve Bunting
A family’s front yard is strewn with all their belongings. Strangers mill around, asking the price of various items and trying to get them for cheap. Callie stands around, watching her old bed and bike get sold.
Her friend Sara tells her she wishes she didn’t have to go and asks her why. “Something about money,” Callie responds.
At the end of the day, Callie’s parents are droopy, and Callie seeks reassurance when an older woman jokingly asks if she is for sale.
Told with empathic text and illustrations by one of my favorite artists, this is a wonderful book for any family that has to downsize due to financial reasons.