A former military child aims to make moves easier with a new book that focuses on the PCS angst that comes from frequent relocations.
New cities. New homes. New schools. New friends. Military children are intimately familiar with the challenges of uprooting their entire lives every few years. Author Shermaine Perry-Knights said she wants to make transitions like these easier for families with her new book called “I Move A Lot and That’s Okay.”
Once a military child herself, Perry-Knights experienced the highs and lows of this unique lifestyle firsthand. Her father did telecommunications work during his time in the Air Force, and her family moved around the globe.
Written to help military kids just like the one she used to be, “I Move A Lot and That’s Okay” tells the story of Grace, a young girl embarking on a PCS to Italy with her family. Although Grace is excited, she’s also nervous about the big changes her life is about to take.
Told from Grace’s perspective, the book follows her journey from Fort Benning, Georgia, all the way to settling into their new home halfway around the world in Italy. Grace grapples with her feelings as all her belongings are packed away to be shipped around the world, as they leave their home for the last time, as she says goodbye to every friend she has, and as they begin to settle into their new life in Italy.
Choosing to show these moves from the point of view of Grace was important to Perry-Knights.
“I’ve seen a lot of literature for military children, but I haven’t seen as much from the military child’s perspective,” she said.
It was also important to her that the book touch on the social-emotional aspects of moving, including grief over missing friends and family, anxiety over moving homes and changing schools, loneliness, and loss of routine. To help parents and teachers, extensive resources are available to support the book’s messages and impact children who are undergoing these transformative moves.
“Grace is my story,” she said. “I wrote the book that I wish I had as a kid while moving a lot.”
In creating the book, Perry-Knights drew extensively on her own experiences, big and small. One scene where Grace jumps on bubble wrap was directly inspired by a fond memory from her own childhood.
“One year I was in three schools in two different countries with a lot of instability. We jumped on bubble wrap at home a lot because there was a lot of bubble wrap around and it made us happy,” Perry-Knights recalled.
She hopes the book helps families find simple moments and inexpensive activities like these to strengthen their connection, as well as to learn how these experiences can make you stronger.
“Moving a lot made me who I am today,” she said. “I’m flexible beyond the norm, make connections quickly, and always try to see the bright side in what is happening. I embrace rapid change and understand that it’s just part of our experience.
And while the new adventures each move brings is one of the best things about life in the military, Perry-Knights takes a frank look at the difficulties, too.
“It’s hard knowing that a piece of you is left behind in each station. A little bit of my heart belongs to every house and station that I’ve ever lived in,” she said. “My hope is that this book becomes a conversation tool with your kids before a PCS, validating their experiences, feelings, and thoughts.”