Everyone has experienced the nervousness of being the new kid at some point in their lives, and for children who have moved and are starting a new school, the anxiety can feel all-encompassing. Making new friends, finding their classrooms, meeting their teachers, the possibility of eating lunch alone? It’s enough to bring on a panic attack in even the most well-adjusted adults. Help ease the transition by introducing your kiddos to some fictional characters who have been in their shoes.
The Kid in the Red Jacket, by Barbara Park
From the author of the bestselling Junie B. Jones series comes a story about fifth-grader Howard Jeeter, who is sure his life is over when his parents move their family from Arizona to Massachusetts. He does make one new friend when he moves, but it’s just not the one he had in mind—it’s his annoying, overly chatty 6-year-old neighbor, Molly Vera Thompson. However, she is truly a faithful friend to Howard in this clever and relatable tale. When forced to choose, will Howard opt for pals from school or Molly?
Back to School, Mallory, by Laurie Friedman
The sequel to Mallory on the Move finds 8-year-old Mallory McDonald returning to school, but it’s not her old school with her best friend, Mary Ann—it’s her new school in her new town. And to make matters worse, her mom is coming with her as the new music teacher. Mallory thinks her third-grade year is doomed, especially when she has to sit next to idea-stealer Pamela and gets cast as an eggplant in a play directed by her mom. Mallory’s voice, notes, and drawings will reel kids in and have them wanting to tear through the whole series.
Lost and Found, by Andrew Clements
Identical twins Ray and Jay Grayson are starting a new school in a new town, but it won’t exactly be a fresh start for the boys. The sixth-graders know it won’t take long for everyone to know them as “two peas in a pod, two ducks on a pond, two spoons in a drawer.” But when Ray is home sick for the first day of school, Jay discovers that due to a major mix-up, the school doesn’t even know Ray exists. The pair hatch a plot to see what life without a twin is like in this entertaining tale of family, friendship, and honesty.
Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier
With her signature graphic novel style, Raina Telgemeier introduces readers to Catrina, who is so bummed to be leaving her friends and moving with her family to a coastal town in Northern California. But her little sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis, and her parents hope Bahía de la Luna’s sea air will help her condition. But as the Catrina soon learns, there’s more to fear about this new town than just starting a new school—there are ghosts! Maya really wants to meet one, but Catrina wants no part of it. Can she push past her fears to help her sister and possibly make some new friends in the process?
Anastasia Again!, by Lois Lowry
This sequel to Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik is more than 35 years old, but the story about a 12-year-old girl learning to cope with life after her parents decide to move the family from the city to the suburbs is still just as relatable today. How can Anastasia be expected to go from urban apartment dweller to a place where “they live in split-level houses with sets of matching furniture”?! She thinks she knows exactly what everyone who lives in the suburbs is like, but as Anastasia soon learns in this funny and endearing read, maybe she doesn’t know everything.
New Kid in School (Ellie McDoodle Diaries Series), by Ruth McNally Barshaw
Fans of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series will love this second book in the Ellie McDoodle Diaries, which details Ellie’s experiences being the new kid after her family moves to a new town where she is sure she won’t fit in. She tells her story through notebook entries and illustrations, capturing experiences like teachers mispronouncing her name and classmates secretly playing a mean game of “new kid bingo.” But Ellie’s spirit and the tone of the book is encouraging and will surely help kids in a similar situation.
What’s your favorite book about moving and starting a new school?