So Long, Farewell: 10 First Books About Moving Away | Milestones

Moving away from home can be so confusing and heartrending for young kids. These 10 titles celebrate changes in addresses while paying homage to the place that has been left behind.

moving truck cartoon, with the 10 books as boxes on the truck.


Moving away from home can be so confusing and heartrending for young kids. They have to leave all that’s familiar and comforting, and acclimate to a strange new place. These 10 titles celebrate changes in addresses while paying homage to the place that has been left behind.



Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! by Cori Doerrfeld. illus. by author. Dial. ISBN 9780525554233. 
Finding the positive within change, the young girl in this book also finds a close emotional tie with a friend as ‘goodbye’ precedes a ‘hello’ in each moment of her life. From the author of The Rabbit Listened, this title speaks to social emotional learning, views the passage of time and change through the eyes of a child, and allows a glimpse at the ups and downs of growing up.  

redstar Saffron Ice Cream by Rashin Kheiriyeh. illus. by author. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. ISBN 9781338150520. 
A young girl enjoys her first visit to the beach at Coney Island while remembering her past family outings in Iran. When Rashin finds that there is no saffron ice cream on Coney Island she is disappointed, but another young girl suggests to her a new flavor, and a new friendship starts. Bright oil-and-acrylic paints on handmade paper give texture and delightful energy to the presentation, adding to the joyous, celebratory excitement of a first visit to a new place.

RedReviewStar Home Is a Window by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard. illus. by Chris Sasaki. Holiday House/Neal Porter. ISBN 9780823441563. 
This heartwarming story about family and moving will show readers the true meaning of home: the people you share it with. Ledyard's sweet text describing home pairs seamlessly with Sasaki's rich and detailed illustrations, which further show all that home can be. A poignant tale sure to help many children deal with the change that moving brings, but recommended for all.

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina. illus. by Sonia Sánchez. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536207040.
Evelyn is Daniela’s “mejor amiga.” They play games, just like always, and laugh, just like always; but the more Daniela talks about their games, the more she alludes to the fact that Evelyn is moving. When Evelyn and Daniela say goodbye, they learn about how to remain friends, even if moving hurts right now. Medina and Sánchez have created a winning emotional story about two best friends who will always be best friends, regardless of all kinds of upheaval.

Coquí in the City by Nomar Perez. illus. by author. Dial. ISBN 9780593109038. 
When Miguel and his parents have to move to the U.S. mainland, he has to leave so much that he loves in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Vibrant, colorful illustrations depict the life and beauty of the island and the rich diversity that can be found in Miguel’s new neighborhood. The text is available in English and Spanish editions and conveys the excitement, sadness, and new possibilities that Miguel experiences. This is a wonderful book with a comforting message, perfect for sharing with young readers who are experiencing big changes. 

 The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl. illus. by author. Knopf. ISBN 9781984893369. 
Leo and his father live in an old blue house. When the landlord calls to tell them the house has been sold and will be torn down, Leo and his dad pack and move to a new house, where they find a way to celebrate the memory of their old blue house. With loving details that radiate off the page, exquisite pacing, and a child’s perspective on the bad thing that is happening, this is recommended to share widely, and with anyone who has ever had to move.



Some children have to not only move to a different house, but they also have to leave their homeland for refuge in a different country. The following four works address different aspects of refugee stories that might resonate with those who have had similar experiences and inspire empathy in those who haven’t.  

 The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story by Thao Lam. illus. by author. Owlkids. ISBN 9781771473637. 
In a semi-autobiographical recounting of her departure from post-war Vietnam, Lam crafts a wordless story of the refugee experience from a child’s perspective. A family hurriedly packs up their belongings and flees into the night. A mother and child are separated from the group, but find their way to an escape boat. A microcosmic story is told as the child rescues ants from a trap. Rather than showing the family’s traumatic sea voyage, Lam chooses to show the ants’ voyage on a paper boat that the child has left behind.

 Like a Dandelion by Huy Voun Lee. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. ISBN 9780062993731. 
Like Thao Lam’s The Paper Boat, a familiar story of an asylum-seeking family unfolds in idyllic scenes of a child’s playthis time with a dandelion. The scene right before a cozy, comforting city nightscape of lighted windows in apartment buildings is composed of refugees and barbed wire, camouflage and barracks. In digital illustrations that have the grace of watercolors, this story starts with displacement and ends with deep-rooted belonging, for every collection, and every child. 

The Refuge by Sandra le Guen. tr. from French by Daniel Hahn. illus. by Stephane Nicolet. Amazon. ISBN 9781542020503.
When Jeannette develops a fascination with stars and the sky, her parents wonder why and learn that a new girl has joined Jeannette’s class. Jeannette’s parents ask more about her new friend, so Jeannette tells the harrowing story of how Iliana and her family came to their country. Le Guen has managed to take a complex plot and difficult message and combine them into an easy-to-follow story from an outsider’s point of view. Nicolet’s illustrations reinforce the child’s perspective, showing the emotions and difficulty behind Iliana’s family’s journey to a new home. A powerful tale about refuge and refugees, helping readers make sense of a complex crisis.

 Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan. illus. by Anna Bron. Annick. ISBN 9781773213750.
Salma lives with her mother in a refugee center in Canada. Salma misses her father and life in Syria, and struggles seeing how unhappy her mother is. She tries to cheer her up by making foul shami, a Syrian meal her family shared in their lost home. Salma seeks the help of many other people in the refugee camp to find a recipe, translate the foods, shop, and prepare the meal. Despite all the help, her frustration opens a floodgate for all her feelings of displacement and sadness. Truthful, hopeful, and relatable.

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