With little eyes and ears tuned to her every word, Taylor Haga asked the group of pre-schoolers: “Can anyone tell me a word that belongs with the letter D?”
“Dog!,” some of them shouted. “Donkey,” said another.
These youngsters didn’t realize it, but they were helping to mark the second anniversary of Sydney’s Book Club, a non-profit organization aimed at helping pre-school children to appreciate the joy of reading books.
The idea was spawned four years ago when Harrisburg mom Tiffany Dickerson chose books as the party theme for her daughter Sydney’s second birthday.
“Basically, we did a party based on nothing but books,” said Dickerson. “From the time they walked into the party, everything had to do with books, including the crafts and games.”
The party was a big hit with her daughter and her guests, so Tiffany decided to challenge Sydney to learn to read by the age of three. Sydney hit that goal, inspiring Tiffany to begin offering bi-weekly reading and craft programs for pre-school age children and their moms. She named the program Sydney’s Book Club in honor of her daughter.
Haga, director of the Harrisburg Chapter of Sydney’s Book Club, says every minute of the one-hour bi-weekly sessions is geared to learning.
“The children take in a lot more than we think,” said Haga. “Even if they don’t have the right answer to a comprehension question, they are learning new words with every story, building their vocabulary and reading skills.”
Dickerson says the key to the program’s success is adult involvement, sharing the child’s interest in learning through reading.
“We want parents to turn off the TV and put their phones away,” said Dickerson, “so they can get down face to face with their child and interact with them while reading.”
When the U.S. Navy assigned Dickerson’s husband to North Carolina, she and Sydney followed, leaving Taylor Haga to oversee the club’s Harrisburg chapter. Meanwhile, the Dickerson started a new chapter of SBC in their North Carolina location, with the dream of someday having SBC chapters all across the nation.
In Harrisburg, Sydney’s Book Club meets at the Joshua Learning Center and the Midtown Scholar Bookstore. For meeting times, contact www.sydneysbookclub.org.