This is the time of the year when people move. Families move near and far, to bigger towns for more opportunity or to smaller towns for a better place to raise the kids. They move for good reasons and not-such-good reasons. When a friend moves away it is stressful for both the kid moving and the kid being left behind. My daughter’s best friend moved away this summer and I’ve found that what her friend is doing at that moment (“Do you think she’s swimming in her new pool right now?”) and what might be different about her friend’s new life (“Is there a Zavazone near where she lives?”) is constantly on my daughter’s mind.
If your child is in the same situation, you might be wondering what you can do to help your child adjust to the new landscape. Luckily, the people at ParentsCanada have some insight into just this situation with an article entitled “What to do when your child’s best friend moves away” that features great tips for helping your child through this emotional transition, including:
- Create a memory book of photos, notes, drawings, and other mementos that will help your child remember their friend.
- Make use of technology to keep the friends connected. Even something as simple as a Facetime tour of the friend’s new room can help your child feel more in touch with his friend’s new life.
- Arrange some playtime with other local friends. Don’t try to replace the relationship but give your child opportunities to build new friendships.
- Offer support and understanding but remind your child that it will be even more difficult for the child who is relocating.
- Share some stories about moving with your child.
Since, turning to books is natural for me, I did a bit of research of stories to share with my daughter and I’ve come up with a list that might help you if you find yourself in this situation. Stories to consider include:
Kindergarten to 2nd grade:
My Best Friend Moved Away by Nancy L. Carlson: From building forts to sharing secrets to sitting together on the bus, best friends do everything together. So what do you do when your best friend moves away? Will you ever have fun again? Or will you be bored and lonely for the rest of your life? Perfect for coping with those best-friend-moved-away-blues, Nancy Carlson’s wise and heartfelt story eases the pain of saying goodbye, while reassuring young readers that they can make new friends even as they keep the old ones close to heart.
Ira Says Goodbye by Bernard Waber: The immensely likable Ira (“Ira Sleeps Over”) returns, in a story that explores a common childhood dilemma of the parting of best friends when one moves away.
Friends by Helme Heine: Charlie Rooster, Johnny Mouse, and Percy the pig are the best of friends. They do everything together. They ride their bike together, play games together, and even do their chores together. Because that’s what good friends do. When night falls, though, and it’s time to go to bed, they learn that sometimes friends have to be apart. But that’s okay, because true friends always find each other, even if it’s just in their dreams.
3rd to 6th grade:
The Kid in the Red Jacket by Barbara Park: Park commiserates with the problems of pre-adolescence in this first-person narrative of ten-year-old Howard Jeeter, whose life is temporarily destroyed by a cross-country move to a new family home.
Best Friends by Jacqueline Wilson: Gemma and Alice have been best friends since they were both born on the same day in the same hospital. It doesn’t matter that Gemma loves soccer while Alice prefers drawing, or that Gemma is always getting into trouble while Alice is a model student and daughter. But when Alice has to move, their friendship is put to the test. They call each other and write letters, but they’re used to seeing each other every day. Can Gemma bear to celebrate her birthday without Alice? Can she stand it when Alice starts making new friends? And with Alice living hundreds of miles away, will they ever see each other again?
Iggy’s House by Judy Blume: Iggie’s House just wasn’t the same. Iggie was gone, moved to Tokyo. And there was Winnie, cracking her gum on Grove Street, where she’d always lived, with no more best friend and two weeks left of summer. Then the Garber family moved into Iggie’s house—two boys, Glenn and Herbie, and Tina, their little sister. The Garbers were black and Grove Street was white and always had been. Winnie, a welcoming committee of one, set out to make a good impression and be a good neighbor. That’s why the trouble started. Because Glenn and Herbie and Tina didn’t want a “good neighbor.” They wanted a friend.
The Girl’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU by Kelli Dunham: This book covers all kinds of questions girls may have about growing up but there is a section on moving that girls will helpful. In fact, the illustration above, by artist Laura Tallardy, is from The Girl’s Body Book (used with permission).
Grades 6 and up:
Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt: German-American Louise Kessler, 14, starts a scrapbook when her best friend, Dottie Masuoka, leaves for the Japanese internment camps. Louise’s scrapbook includes items from her life “on the home front” as well as Dottie’s letters and drawings from the internment camp. Together, their intertwined stories tell of a friendship that even war cannot tear apart.
And as a special bonus, here is a free story from the pages of Spider magazine entitled Best Friends Always about moving and best friends by Mary Kay Morel, an author who seems to really understand what it’s like when a best friend moves away. I’m looking forward to sharing this story with both my daughter and her now far-away BFF. I think it will help them both adjust to being best friends who happen to live in different time zones.