Preston Hollow Sisters ’Beat Anxiety’ by Writing, Illustrating Book

Salma and Sofia Salvaggio researched project during pandemic lockdowns

Salma and Sofia Salvaggio of Preston Hollow suffered along with other children during the COVID-19 pandemic with the mental and emotional costs of school closures and social isolation. 

But unlike most children suffering with the ensuing anxiety, they put their heads together and took on an extra writing project.

“Salma has always loved to read,” the girls’ mother, Martha, said. “She wrote and illustrated a little book when she was 6, and another at 7.” 

With COVID came plenty of stress and anxiety for the family, especially since dad is in the medical field and was working on the front lines. 

“So, we did a lot of gardening, a lot of art, and online schooling,” Martha recalled. “There was a one-year waitlist for friends who were trying to get a therapist for their kids.” 

Salma, who did a lot of reading, noticed her friends having trouble with anxiety, so she and her sister discussed how they could help people with the stresses of the lockdowns. 

They made a game of it, taking notes. The girls read about a dozen books for research and comparison, typing away on their iPads all through 2020. 

Time passed, and Martha thought the girls had abandoned their project. But in 2021, Salma came to her asking for help. She organized their self-help workbook ideas on paper with a few drawings, thinking her job was done. But the girls kept pushing.

“Not good enough, not pretty enough,” they insisted as the notes increased. “And then we had a book,” the proud mother said. “It’s a book by kids for kids.”

Beat Anxiety: Help for Kids of All Ages by Salma and Sofia Salvaggio (now 9 and 10, respectively) was finished in early 2022 and is filled with information, ideas, and activities to help children overcome anxiety and worry.

“We did research on yoga, breathing, meditation, hobbies, and other techniques to help with anxiety,” Salma said.

She also illustrated the book and designed its cover. 

“I love to paint and draw,” Salma said.

“They were so proud when they were finished with it,” Martha said. “The best therapy is to help somebody else.”

“I told my husband we need to help them publish this,” she said. “We’re self-publishing right now because all of this is new territory for us.”

“We just started a foundation, named after the girls’ slogan, called the Always Be Kind Foundation,” Martha said. “So, we’re going to donate funds from book sales to help kids’ education.”

“It’s never really finished,” little perfectionist Salma added of the book.

The girls are back in classes in person at a North Dallas private school their parents prefer not to identify.

“It’s good,” Salma said, grinning with a nod. “Much better. The kids need to be together.” 

The intrepid author is already working on a new book and waxes philosophical about her COVID-19 lockdown tribulations and the therapeutic effect of writing Beating Anxiety, “There is no rainbow without a storm.”

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