Our Guest, Shermaine Perry-Knights: I am a military kid, all grown up. I am a certified trainer who now teaches professional development courses, and I’m an author of a book for military kids. I PCSed at least 10 times as a military kid, and a lot of them were OCONUS moves!
Shermaine wrote the book, “I Move A Lot and That’s Okay!” which we will giveaway this Month of the Military Child.
DoD Updates: Once you have your hard orders in hand, you need to get on DPS and set up your move–whether you are doing Household Goods, a PPM (partial or full), or an Express shipment. They all must be set up in DPS or they won’t get scheduled or reimbursed.
What made you decide to write this book for military kids?
First, the creativity that comes from being under quarantine forced me to think what I wanted to write about, and I wanted to write about my own experiences. Second, whenever you explain your life as a military kid, people often think you are exaggerating or making up stories, because they are exotic experiences that are different to others. And I wanted to help people through quarantine by thinking about the moving process and helping people through major changes.
What made you focus on moving as the topic of the books?
It’s the dreaded questions, “Where are you from?” I cringe when I hear that! Do they want to know where I was born? Where I got my social? Where I spent the most time? I have adopted the phrase, “I’m kind of from everywhere,” but I’m really not. You are asked that constantly, so I wanted to finally talk about where I am from and what that means. So this is the first book I published with my stories.
I have 3 siblings, and if you ask us all “where are we from?” you’re going to get different answers. So it’s a better question to ask is “what station was your favorite?”
You wrote two versions of this book: Grace’s Story and Axel’s Story. How are they different?
The books are very similar. I wrote Grace’s story first, to share my experiences as a daughter of a male service member. But I had a lot of friends who told me that their mom was the service member, and their son was the one struggling with moving, and they wanted me to capture that experience. So I said, “of course I can do that!” And that’s how Axel’s story was born, to highlight female service members and a son’s perspective instead of a daughter’s. So there’s a story to relate to either experience, depending which parent is the service member.
Did you develop a British accent when you lived in England?
I did, but it wasn’t that cool! I moved back here when I was 4, and the American kids would make fun of me, so I eventually let that accent go, but if I am around other Brits, it comes out and it is always a funny experience.
What age group are these books for?
Children under age 7 could benefit from these books, but probably their parent or caregiver will be reading it to them. But I decided to focus on children ages 7-10 because that is when they are leaving friends behind, starting to process things on their own, and need to discuss these PCS topics. But I have many readers who tell me they are sharing this book with younger children and the kids relate to the illustrations in the book. Younger kids can still learn something from this book and their emotions as they go through the move. Even at 7, 8, or 9 years old, many kids still keep their stuffed animal because it is an attachment thing that feels like a small thing they can hold onto throughout their move.
What message are you sending to you readers with this book?
They should walk away knowing that military kids have a really valuable experience. We typically honor the service member and maybe mention the spouse, but there isn’t a lot of literature that looks at the military kid and focuses on their emotions and needs. So it is my hope that parents will see this book and use it as a conversation piece before their next move, and talk to their kids about how they feel. My mom was always really good about talking to us through those experiences, and letting us know that we weren’t saying goodbye to someone forever.
Growing up as a military kid, how did your parents prepare you for moves?
My dad would just wait until the last minute and tell us, “ok, we’re moving.” I don’t think this was the best approach! My mom had a softer approach and would have conversations with us, do research about the new location, talk about moving as an adventure, and always find out more about a local beach, local food, and definitely finding a library. We would talk about picking out a house in a new place–even if it was never the house I picked, I still felt involved in the process.
There are different approaches, so you need to find what works best for your household. We used to jump on bubble wrap and slide on the boxes, draw pictures or tic tac toe on the boxes–anything to make the boring task of moving more fun.
Where can people learn more about you and this book?
They can go to www.Booksformilitaryfamilies.com
There is an ebook, hardcover, and paperback available, and there is also a coloring book version–all available on Amazon!
Fun details: the character always wears a cartouche necklace, with hieroglyphs on each side, because a lot of military kids who have traveled overseas wear this. I also included some tips on how to pronounce Italian words, because learning a new culture and language is a real part of military kid life!