Moving house is a big deal for anyone, particularly young children. We moved a year ago, when our elder daughter was nearly three and our younger daughter only a few months old. Even though she prefers her new home, our nearly four year old does often talk about the "old house" and sometimes asks if we will ever go back. It helped that we only moved a few minutes from where we used to live, so her key points of reference (the park, the shops and her pre-school) remained the same.
Moving home is a significant theme in the picturebook canon, and there are some wonderful choices to help young children think through and adjust to the upheaval. Below are four of our favourites.
A New House for Mouse by Petr Horacek, published by Walker Books
This tale of a hungry mouse seeking a new abode is one of our most read picturebooks, beautifully illustrated by Petr Horacek's distinctive and bold blocks of colour.
When a small mouse wakes up and leaves its hole to seek food, it comes across a big, juicy apple. But the mouse hole is just too small to get the apple through, so the journey begins to find a home that can accommodate her tasty prize. As we all know, looking for a new house is tiring and hungry work, and so the mouse takes a little bite each time a new place is considered.
Rabbit, badger and mole are all unable to accommodate the mouse and the apple, and she has second thoughts about asking bear to share its cave. Finally, after a long search, and with the apple not much more than a core, mouse comes across a small mouse hole that's just big enough to fit what is left of the apples. Fortunately mouse finds that this place with a familiar feel is empty, and ever so cosy.
This tale is all the more engaging thanks to its clever interactive element of page cut outs, which enable readers to see through the pages into each of the homes mouse visits. A New House for Mouse is a wonderful picturebook that truly conveys the meaning of "home sweet home".
My New Home by Marta Altes published by Macmillan Children's Books
This is an ideal choice for young children who had an established group of friends that they are leaving behind or who may be starting a new school because of a house move.
A young raccoon and its family moves across town to a new house, and is finding it all a bit scary and confusing. Everything is in boxes and nothing is familiar. The other animals aren't like the old friends and the raccoon feels sad and lonely. But with 'new' comes 'adventure' and, after some time has passed, the raccoon is happier.
Marta Altes' distinct and cute characters are perfectly matched to this tale of adjustment to new surroundings and new friendships (unusually told in the first person).
Little Home Bird by Jo Empson, published by Child's Play
Sensitive subjects have proved a speciality for Jo Empson. A wonderful book previously featured on our blog, 'Rabbitiness', movingly addresses the theme of loss and bereavement. In Little Home Bird she focuses on the subject of leaving a much loved home behind.
This beautiful tale of a bird who has to give up all it loves to find a new home, is a perfect choice to help young children who are having to move under difficult circumstances. It proves impossible to bring its favourite things along for the journey, but on reaching its destination little bird discovers replacements to make a new nest a happy home too.
This book would be a good choice for a child whose family is in two places and they are living between two homes, or when they are moving for more global reasons such as migration from another country.
Filled with light and bright with colour, Little Home Bird is also an incredible work of art in its own right and its sweet tale can be enjoyed on non-emotive levels too, including as a way to learn about the cyclical movements of birds.
Trouble Next Door by Chris Higgins, Illustrated by Emily Mackenzie, published by Bloomsbury Children's
Our elder daughter is taking a keen interest in illustrated chapter books and this tale of adventure, new friends and settling into a new house was very well received over the course of a few nights. Bella and her little brother Sid are adjusting to life in a new home, an old cottage in the countryside.
While their parents are busy unpacking and decorating, they explore, drawn towards a wooden door leading to the attic. Bella can hear scurrying sounds from the attic, which is above her bedroom ceiling. Her parents tell her not to go up there because it's dark and messy, but she thinks it must be a ghost.
When she befriends the confident and adventurous Magda, the two get into a few scrapes - resulting in broken crockery, chimney soot on the new carpet and a ghost hunt in the attic - all of which get Bella into trouble, while Magda seeks to get away with everything.
Nearly every page of text is accompanied by fun, engaging illustrations that successfully convey the mischief and capers of the story. The book ends well with Bella and Sid settling into their new home, and cheeky Magda learning the value of loyalty and honesty.