What’s Inside Your Backpack?

Coping Skills For Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma


SKU: D329-Net

All around us, children are carrying backpacks that are heavy with more than just textbooks. Each day, they also bear the weight of difficult life experiences and intense feelings.

Zoey Harmon just wants to feel light-hearted and carefree. Unfortunately, she keeps getting weighed down by pesky “books” in her backpack, like Worry and Shame. Much to her surprise, she’s not the only one! Zoey learns that the adults in her life deal with difficult feelings too! Luckily, they have some ideas that can help her set aside the books she’s not meant to carry. Will it be enough to help her unload the heaviest book of all?

“You look a little worried, kiddo,” Zoey’s mom said, giving her a squeeze. “Sometimes I need a bright thought to help me when I’m feeling upset. Here, try this.” She slid a bookmark into Zoey’s hand. Zoey looked down and read: Imagine with Hope.

“What’s this?” asked Zoey.

“When we don’t know what to expect, worry wants us to imagine with fear, to think about all the worst possibilities. This is a little reminder I use to think of the good things that might happen when I imagine with hope instead.”

While there are no quick fixes for all of life’s complex problems, What’s Inside Your Backpack? highlights some of the ways we can nurture resilience in body and mind. Using the metaphor of books and bookmarks, author Jessica Sinarski offers gentle, effective strategies to help children impacted by trauma. By sharing their burdens with people they trust, kids can lighten their load and realize just how strong and courageous they really are!

Written by Jessica Sinarski
Illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff
Paperback ISBN 9781953945235
Grades 2-5
32 pages
Release Date February 4, 2021

Additional information







National Center for Youth Issues

Jessica Sinarski, LPCMH equips parents and professionals to be healers for hurting children. Weaving user-friendly brain science into everything she does, Jessica ignites both passion and know-how in audiences. Extensive post-graduate training and 15+ years as a clinician, consultant, and parent educator led her to create BraveBrains, a resource and training platform for home, school, and community.

Jessica partners with school districts and child welfare agencies across the country to better incorporate effective trauma-sensitive practices into their work. She also shares her expertise as a contributor to magazines, blogs, and podcasts. When not writing and training, she continues to work as a bilingual therapist and clinical supervisor at an innovative adoption support agency. Jessica lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three busy boys.

This straight-forward story arms parents and educators with a tool for talking with children about the heavy feelings they’re carrying. It’s an incredibly timely book that’s so relatable, which means it’s bound to help start important conversations of hope and healing for many.

Julie Beem
Executive Director, Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc.

I am impressed with Jessica’s ability to talk about tough subjects in a way that is safe for our students to explore. I especially love how she acknowledges the impact that worry and fear can have on our ability to regulate. Teaching our youth early how to attune to their bodies and their regulation and to learn helpful ways to manage the stress associated with their experiences is a powerful tool! What a great resource for parents and educators.

Kristin Souers
Co-Author of “Fostering Resilient Learners”

What’s Inside Your Backpack? is a short, easy read which provides creative and practical tools to help young children counteract those “big feelings” which are often encountered through life’s many difficult transitions. It’s colorful, offers wide-ranging diversity, and feels inclusive of all. It’s a simple storybook that will undoubtedly help parents, educators and others to support children, who have experienced trauma, in achieving a sense of hope and healing!

Atasha Kelley-Harris, M.Ed., CFLE, LCPAA
National Director of Family Advocacy, ATTACh


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