Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Thank you for joining us for another interview with one of our amazing honorees! For this interview, we were able to speak with Dannielle Pickford, Mom’s Choice Award-winning author of the children’s picture book Sydney the Sloth. Looking for a story to help your child improve their speech and learn to use the letter S? Sydney the Sloth is a fun, fast-paced dance story designed to support young readers as they begin to recognize and pronounce S sounds. Author Dannielle Pickford created this series after years of helping her child develop his speech sounds. On every page, discover new ways to use the letter S in speech and writing. Sydney the Sloth is perfect for readers aged 2 to 5, introducing important concepts that help children develop speech skills. Combining a fun narrative with engaging illustrations, this book offers a unique way for young readers to learn about sound. Keep reading to find out more about Dannielle Pickford and her award-winning book, Sydney the Sloth!
MCA: Hi Dannielle, thank you so much for joining us today, and a huge congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Award! Sydney the Sloth is such an important resource for parents, caretakers, and teachers for speech development in children. Can we first start the interview by having you tell us a bit about yourself?
Dannielle: I am an Author, Doctor of Physiotherapy and Mumma of two. I spend my days helping children with developmental delays. I believe every child should be given the opportunity to be their very best self, follow their dreams and feel represented. I am passionate about advocating for those who feel their voice is too small.
One Goat Publishing is a young family business with a big goal to help kids all over the world celebrate their differences. In our books, we aim to tackle big and sometimes difficult conversations, give a step up to those who are falling behind and let every child know they are perfect just the way they were made. We aim to not make one generic book to please all children but authentic, inclusive books with characters of all races and abilities.
I love the ocean, being outdoors, and adventures with my family.
MCA: That’s a goal we at Mom’s Choice Awards can definitely get behind! What was your path to becoming a writer like? What inspired you?
Dannielle: I have been interested in writing books since the fourth grade however it was not until I became a mum that I decided to take the leap.
I was inspired to start writing books to help my sons. My little boy had a developmental speech delay. After years of speech therapy, repeating sounds and words, struggling with my little boy to keep him engaged and motivated when he felt like he was failing, was really hard. I felt there must be another way to help him.
Then, Gary the Goat was born. Introducing ‘G’ through this story in an informal way using our favorite and most special ‘story time’ together removed the pressure and helped us bond over words.
My son was excited to nail the ‘G’ sound and find out who the next character would be. After showing the book to our speech therapist and speaking with my own patients and their parents, I decided it was time to share Gary with the world to help other kids overcome obstacles too.
MCA: Children can be the best source of inspiration! Speaking of inspiration, was it your son’s own speech development journey that lead you to write Sydney the Sloth?
Dannielle: The ‘S’ sound was another hurdle on my son’s speech journey, inspired to help him in learning his different speech sounds and the difficulties that he has faced along the way. As a mother who has helped her child through 5 years of Speech Therapy, I know how hard it can be to keep your child positive and motivated in the process. So it is important to me to help other families like mine by getting quality, affordable resources into homes and adding some sneaky speech development practice into storytime. The name Sydney came from our family pet dog, a little Jack Russel with a big heart, who always followed his passion.
MCA: Dogs not only provide unconditional love, emotional support, and constant cuddles but also great writing inspiration! What are some of the key lessons found in Sydney the Sloth?
Dannielle: Sydney the sloth is about perseverance, following your dreams and never giving up and believing in yourself even if other don’t. Sydney is a sloth loves to salsa but it doesn’t come easy for a Sloth. Sydney has to push through to find a way to make his passion work. Sydney doesn’t give up and looks for ways his salsa can be speedy and sassy just like it is in his dreams. You join Sydney in his journey and get to practice your ‘S’ sounds along the way.
MCA: What kind of response from readers have you received?
Dannielle: The response to Sydney the Sloth has been fantastic so far, kids love how cute and funny it is, and parents love the messages it sends. Everyone can’t wait to find out the next character in the series.
MCA: How can parents and caretakers help facilitate child language learning through books such as Sydney the Sloth?
Dannielle: Nurturing and responsive learning environments are important for the development of strong speech and language skills. This includes frequent opportunities for children to share attention with adults, interact and hear language for a variety of different purposes. Reading with your child is the perfect learning environment, they can feel safe and comfortable to be themselves.
This series has a specific sound focus, it uses alliteration and repetition make a fun yet educational read. Encourage your child to join in and cheer on Sydney on his journey. The repetition of ‘Go Sydney, Go’ allows them to predict when and how to get involved. Asking them questions as you read or pausing to let them fill the gaps also help facilitate language. Having books that are familiar and having them ‘read’ to you (even when they can’t read yet) allows them to become confident with storytelling, and books and helps promote a love of reading.
MCA: With all the success you’ve had in your writing career so far I have to ask, what can we expect to see next from you?
Dannielle: I have a wonderful new book to be released in the next few months that aims to help children discover valuable social-emotional skills and learn the importance of self-care. Written for readers aged 3 to 7, it provides an introduction to important life lessons that support children to become happy, healthy, and confident individuals. Keep you eyes out on my social media pages for sneak peaks and a release announcement. @onegoatstorytime
MCA: That is so exciting, we cannot wait to read it! Please be sure to keep us posted when it is released.
You can learn more about Dannielle Pickford and her award-winning book, Sydney the Sloth, by visiting her MCA Shop pages.