Julie Reynolds and her daughters Sophie and Sloane
Julie Reynolds and her daughters Sophie and Sloane. (Courtesy of Julie Reynolds)

Children now have one more resource to help them combat anxiety, with Julie Binder Reynolds’ new picture book, The Warrior Backpack.

Ever since the pandemic began and lives have been uprooted in almost every area, many people’s anxiety has reached unprecedented levels, including children. 

Children now have one more resource to help them combat anxiety, with Julie Binder Reynolds’ new picture book, The Warrior Backpack.

The book is about a boy named Alex who feels nervous about going to school. His mother helps identify his anxiety and pull outs four anxiety-busting strategies from an invisible backpack. The methods are all rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy. 

“Reading books about characters that face the same challenges is especially helpful for children. It’s called bibliotherapy. It’s not as personal as when kids are talking about themselves,” Reynolds said. 

The book also contains a resource section for parents and a workbook journal and daily check in for kids to keep track of their thoughts and feelings. 

As a child, Reynolds grew up in Birmingham, attended Groves High School and University of Michigan. Her family attended Temple Beth El and she spent summers at Camp Tanuga.

“I did the whole Detroit thing … My mom, Linda Deutsch,  and siblings still live there, and I visit frequently,” Reynolds said. “I still consider it home.” 

After graduation, Reynolds relocated to Denver, Colorado, equipped with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s in school counseling and post-master’s degree in counseling. A certified licensed professional counselor, Reynolds worked in schools for 15 years before starting her own small private practice. 

“This provided me with a very deep understanding of the struggles kids face today,” said Reynolds. 

During the pandemic, Reynolds, who has a passion for helping kids live their best life and who missed working with students in schools, took her knowledge and experience to online marketing and social media. She began making TikTok videos. 

“It sounds weird, but it’s true; TikTok made me do this book!” She’s only half-joking; it was through her TikTok videos that she saw what was most needed.

“I was doing a lot of TikTok videos and whenever I did one on anxiety tips and strategies, I got tremendous feedback. Everyone loved it,” Reynolds said. She decided to write her tips in an easy-to-read book kids could refer to whenever they needed it.

She didn’t know how to make a book, though. TikTok came to the rescue again! Reynolds watched a TikTok video on how easy it was to make a book on Amazon and decided to forge ahead. 

Her own education and real-life experience with the many students she had counseled over the years served as the writing backdrop. As for an illustrator, Reynolds turned to her daughter, Sophia, now 11, who was eager to be part of what was quickly becoming a family project. Sophia, then 10, used the Procreate App, an iPad app that allows even a young artist to sketch, paint and edit with professional results.  

Reynolds’ youngest daughter, Sloane, now 9, also wanted to contribute. She added a small hidden animal on each page for kids to find, adding a dimension and turning the book into a game. Reynolds’ husband, Steve, also offered advice and support. 

“The writing and art didn’t take long. The complicated part was figuring out the logistics of publishing, getting it formatted and all the behind-the-scenes issues,” Reynolds said. 

The book was published in August 2021 and quickly received rave reviews. Within just one week, it earned “No. 1 new release best seller” in three different categories. 

Most heartwarming is the effusive praise the book has received from parents and school therapists alike. One woman’s review on Amazon said she bought the book for her daughter, but admitted she was planning to use the simple strategies herself, too. Parents have stopped Reynolds in the street to share how The Warrior Backpack helped reduce their children’s anxiety about attending school. 

Reynolds is thrilled to hear that her book is helping kids. “That’s exactly why I created it,” she said. 

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