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Syd's Book Shack & Boutique

A non-profit donation-based bookstore

As a skill that we are taught at an early age, clear and concise communication is a luxury that can easily be taken for granted. Being the parents of two teenage girls, Madison and Sydney, local residents Meredith and Paul are more than familiar with the importance of proper communication. Sydney (Syd for short) has grown up as non-verbal, and because of this, communicates using an iPad with a speech program designed to meet her specific needs and accommodations. When asked about the way the program has affected Syd’s life, Meredith says that it has been “amazing”, and that, “Without the talker, the outside world would not know what she was saying, so we wanted to give the outside world access to these talkers and support.”

In addition to being on the Autism Spectrum and nonverbal, Syd attends a private school in Old Lyme that focuses on adult transitions, such as job training skills and functional life skills. She currently volunteers at a veterinary hospital, two libraries, as well as at Syd’s Book Shack. Described as an avid lover of books and all things literary, Meredith and Paul tried to think of a way that they could use their daughter’s interests to ensure she has a stable future means of employment, while also remaining a lively and active part of the community.

In March of 2021, the two had the breakthrough idea they were looking for; a non-profit donation-based bookstore. Originally beginning as a Facebook post, a friend of Meredith’s made a status asking if anyone had any books they

By Nick Chasse

would like to contribute. Whether it was an effect of the Pandemic’s lockdown, or just fortunate timing, this began an onslaught of donations from numerous individuals. After putting out a few feelers, the family sought out a storefront, and by June 2021, Syd’s Book Shack & Boutique came to fruition at its present location at 1300 Boston Post Road in Guilford.. 

Despite all that they have accomplished, Meredith has assured that this is still only the beginning. Syd’s Book Shack’s goal is to create a space for members of the community to be able to connect and come together, with all proceeds not only being donated to help provide communication devices to other nonverbal individuals, but also used to create programs for people of all abilities. Working in tandem with local school districts such as Guilford, typical peers would be paired with special needs students in order to teach occupational and social skills, as studies have proven that kids who learn alongside mentors or friends tend to feel more comfortable and learn better than when paired with adults. It is through these means that Syd’s Book Shack hopes to offer the same sense of ease that they have been able to give to Syd, as well as educate the public on how amazing and talented these kids truly are. 

To get involved, you can find Syd’s Book Shack & Boutique on Facebook, Instagram, or online at, with a new store location expected mid-Summer! 

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