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Book Series Helps Kids Embrace New Hometown

When I talk to my son I sometimes feel like he hears me. But most of the time I'm pretty sure he has tuned me out and is instead thinking about Angry Birds.

But when I read my son a book? He listens. He studies the pictures. He hears every single word. And Angry Birds gets to wait for later.

That's why when I heard about the Home is Where books by educator and grown-up military brat Melissa Davis and military spouse, mom and Military.com columnist Rebekah Sanderlin, I was excited. A book aimed at helping my kid get excited about and adjust to a new duty station? Yes, please!

"As a teacher and a principal in a military school district she noticed a few years ago that a lot of the kids in her school weren’t excited about PCSing. It was just one more burden of military life. And it kind of made her sad," Sanderlin said. "So she wrote the first book just to help kids who were coming to[Fort] Bragg see the silver lining in PCSing."

The books, which run about 40 illustrated pages each and are written on a third-grade level, highlight the different things kids can look forward to at the upcoming duty station. The Fort Bragg, N.C. book, for example, tells the story of Army kid Kristy. When Kristy's dad is due for orders, she is excited to find out where they are going. When her father announces their next duty station is to be Fort Bragg, he does so while telling her all about the history of the area and the exciting things to see and do nearby.

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I will confess that I have no desire to ever live at Fort Bragg, and that it was at the very bottom of our list of choices not long ago. But this book made even me feel optimistic.

The Bragg book was the first published in the now-growing series. Sanderlin and Davis plan to add a new book to the collection every four to six weeks across services and already have Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., the Virginia Beach, Va. area, Fort Rucker, Ala., the National Capitol Region and Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. completed or in the pipeline.

Many of the books are illustrated by military spouses, said Sanderlin. But for their upcoming book on Fort Rucker, Ala., the authors decided to do something a little different. Rather than find an established artist for the book, they opened an illustration contest to students in the Fort Bragg, N.C. area school district. The winner of the contest, Marisa Cooley, a military brat and senior at Gray's Creek High School outside Fort Bragg, will receive a $2,000 contract to illustrate the new book.

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Sanderlin said they hope kids reading these books will gain positive feelings about their upcoming move.

"What we hope for kids to take from the books … is a sense of adventure that, yes ,they are moving but they are going to get to do a lot of cool things at this new place too," she said.

The books are $12 each when bought individually, but less when purchased by the case for units or educators, for example, to hand-out.

You can learn all about the series, currently available books and authors on their website.

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