Houghton Regis library and teachers inspire schoolgirl to literary success

A pupil from a Houghton Regis school made it through to the semi-final of BBC Radio 2’s ‘500 words’ story writing competition for children.

Nyah Atkinson, of Thornhill Primary School, wrote ‘Star and Moon and the Legend of Fun Island’ and was one of 5,000 entries to make it to the semi-final.

Nyah Atkinson at last year's Summer Reading Challenge at Houghton Regis Library.

Nyah Atkinson at last year's Summer Reading Challenge at Houghton Regis Library.

The eight-year-old’s mum wrote a letter to the school and Houghton Regis Library to thank them for the part they had to play. Cassandra Philip said: “Nyah is not the best nor the weakest reader in her class: She is just a regular child, but my daughter loves to read.

“Whilst fostering a love of reading often starts at home, she would never have had the confidence to create and send an entry into a national literary competition without certain other important people and places contributing to her belief and passion.

“The teachers’ energy and enthusiasm at Thornhill Primary School has made a huge impression on her, and they been supporting Nyah’s writing throughout this year, going above and beyond.

“But we also owe a huge thank-you to Houghton Regis Library: the staff and the selection of books, plus the innovative lure of their ‘Lego club’ has helped us surround ourselves with books every Saturday morning. I want to thank the library staff for their great work, and for the council’s investment in the local library.

Nyah meeting comedian and author, David Baddiel, at a local book signing event

Nyah meeting comedian and author, David Baddiel, at a local book signing event

“It is my hope that, although we now have an incredible and sparkly new library at the Dunstable Centre, that Houghton Regis library will continue to inspire others to read and write. Your Summer Reading Challenges in particular are fantastic!”

‘500 words’ is the UK’s most successful short story-writing competition for children between the ages of five and 13, over 110,000 stories are believed to have entered this year.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “We are delighted to hear of young Nyah’s success, and congratulate her on getting to the semi-finals of this important national competition.

“We are especially pleased to hear how our local library and its staff have played such a role in fostering her literary skills.

“Taking your child to the library and letting them choose their own books can be a fun adventure, and part of them learning to love books.

“We have a huge stock of books of all types and genres, and you can borrow great children’s books for free from your local library. This means you can have lots of books in your home for your child to read and explore – and it won’t cost you a penny.

“Our libraries also hold a wide range of free regular sessions with rhymes and storytelling to spark your child’s imagination and stimulate curiosity, and toys and electronics to help educate and develop analytical thinking.”

This year the Summer Reading Challenge, Space Chase, is inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. The challenge, which is open for four to 11-year-olds, runs from Saturday, July 20, until Saturday, September 7.