Sometimes a simple conversation is not enough to prepare little ones for big changes ahead and as parents we often find that children need to be able to visualise something before they can understand it. Enter a great collection of picture books, film and even TV shows that are perfect for explaining the complicated concept of moving home - and away from what you know - to tots. Read and watch these with them and then use them as a starting point to discuss wider implications of what they understood about these stories and how it made them feel, to allay both their fears and your nerves about any major upheavals that might be on their way.
Bruce’s Big Move by Ryan T. Higgins (4-7 years)
The third instalment after the New York Times bestselling Mother Bruce and Hotel Bruce, this playfully illustrated storybook follows curmudgeonly bear Bruce as he’s forced to move to a new home when his house is overrun by mice. Although not specifically designed to help children with moving home both parents and little ones will delight in the hilarious antics of grumpy Bruce as he struggles to come to terms with change in his life, teaching kids to find humour in things that seem disconcerting.
Big Ernie's New Home: A Story for Children Who Are Moving by Teresa and Whitney Martin (2-5 years)
Told from the perspective of a worried pet cat and his owner Ernie, this book guides children through the whole process of moving, including the time it can take to warm up to a new place, affirming the normal sadness, anger, and anxiety that young children feel after a move. A two-page section at the back even covers ways parents can smooth kids’ transition to a new home.
Milo: A Moving Story by Tohby Riddle (4-8 years)
Milo, a messenger dog living in New York City finds his life turned up-side down when a storm whisks his kennel up onto a skyscraper in the middle of the clouds from where he makes new friends and expand his horizons. With atmospheric, imaginative artwork depicting a vintage era this story will inspire an adventurous spirit in children, reinforcing the idea that new possibilities make life interesting.
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle (5-7 years)
Featuring Eric Carle’s trademark vibrant collage illustrations and lively text we all know from his iconic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, House for Hermit Crab sees its title character grow out of one house after another as he searches for the perfect home. Children moving home will relate and take heart as they see him learn to appreciate change in this wise and whimsical tale.
Moving Day! By Jess Stockham (Helping Hands Series) (2-5 years)
Especially useful for younger children, this picture book serves as great visual aid to help little ones understand the process of packing up belongings and transporting them to a new house. Encouraging them to help with real tasks in a natural progression from pretend play, simple conversational text and lively illustrations are carefully designed to encourage further dialogue between the reader and child about the process of moving.
Louis & Bobo: We Are Moving by Christiane Engel (5-7 years)
Louis and his dog Bobo tackle the uncertainty of moving to a new home whilst leaving behind school and friends. Illustrated in a lively and colourful scrapbook style the book works to allay children’s fears during upheaval of moving, from the stresses of parents to the rapidly emptying house. Eventually a reluctant Louis begins to enjoy the exciting possibilities of his new home.
All books are also available on Amazon
InsideOut (6+ years)
A popular choice from Disney Pixar, this film follows Riley, a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old girl whose world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley's emotions - led by Joy - try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley's mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust. A wonderful guide on tackling the sadness that can come with a move, this film has even become a teaching tool for many councillors who find it helps children talk about and express their emotions.
My Neighbor Totoro (3-5+ years)
A classic from Japanese children’s film powerhouse Studio Ghibli, this sweet tale follows schoolgirl Satsuke and her younger sister, Mei, as they settle into an old country house with their father and wait for their mother to recover from an illness in an area hospital. As the sisters explore their new home, they encounter and befriend playful spirits in their house and the nearby forest, most notably the massive cuddly creature known as Totoro. The film deals with getting to grips with a new home well and much of the story depicts the joy that can be found in things that initially seem scary (some hand holding may be required during scenes when Totoro is noisy!), while the vivid animation will delight young and old alike. There's both an original Japanese subtitled version and a modern English dub, so make sure you're getting the English language film.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (2+ years)
Episode: Daniel’s Very Different Day
Many parents may already be familiar with 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, who every day puts on his red sweater, ties his shoes, and invites us into the Neighbourhood of Make-Believe, serving as a solid starting-point when it comes to younger children consuming media.
This particular episode begins with Daniel Tiger painting a picture when he drips paint on himself. Mom Tiger helps Daniel feel better when his favourite red sweater has to go in the wash, singing the song "Things may change and that's okay. Today we can do things a different way", and Daniel feels comfortable changing into a t-shirt instead. As the day progresses Daniel learns how to manage his feelings through multiple situations when things turn out different to his expectations, instilling in children that change is not something to be feared.