Houghton Regis Library Praised for Inspiring Schoolgirl's Success

Local schoolgirl, Nyah Atkinson of Thornhill Primary School in Houghton Regis in Central Bedfordshire, has made it through to the recent semi-final of BBC Radio 2’s prestigious ‘500-words’ story writing competition for children.

‘500 Words’ is the UK’s most successful short story-writing competition for children between the ages of 5 and 13. Over 110,000 stories are believed to have entered this year, and over 20,000 schools participated. Nyah’s story, called ‘Star and Moon and the Legend of Fun Island’, was one of only 5,000 to make it to the semi-final.

Whilst Nyah as an 8-year-old perhaps can’t fathom the enormity of this achievement, her mother felt compelled to write a letter to the school and local library services to thank them for the part they had to play.

Nyah’s mum, 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 have made a huge impression on her, and they were 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. 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!”

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.”

Central Bedfordshire Council libraries hold regular craft sessions and children’s MakerSpace; Sensory Sessions for under 5’s; Toddler Tales for under 5’s; Rhymetime for under 5’s; Lego, Duplo, K’nex and Mega Blocks activities; Minecraft Club; Adult Coffee Mornings; Colour-me-calm and Knit & Knatter both every Friday.

Visit their Twitter feed at  @cbc_libraries or Facebook page at @CBClibraries

Nyah’s story, ‘Star and Moon and the Legend of Fun Island’ 
Nyah at the Library

Star and Moon and the Legend of Fun Island.

A long, long time ago, there was a fuzzy young dog called Star, and a caring kind girl called Moon. They were going to River Island to see Sun. 

They hopped on their boat and set sail in the dark scary sea. On the way, there was a colossal storm: it was the windiest most horrible storm of them all. The sky was black, and the sea was dark blue, with the moon dancing across it. Star and Moon were frightened. It is impossible to imagine just how frightened they were.

All of a sudden, a huge thick fog appeared and it was difficult to see. They simply felt the crash. Luckily their boat had seatbelts. The gigantic, enormous boat found itself on an island. However it wasn’t the right island! A crooked sign said ‘Welcome to Fun Island'. They searched around and the storm had stopped, and a nice sunny day began on this tropical island. They were the only people there, and they were delighted to have peace and quiet.

Star found some wood. It was curved and made a perfect slide, allowing them to splash straight into the sea. Moon had an amazing idea, as she shot down the slide and into the air. She decided to cut some of the curvy wood and patch up the boat.

Together they patched the old crooked boat and they were ready to set sail to Sun's house.

They sailed for thirteen hours until they were exhausted, but finally they made it to Sun's house. Both of them were very soggy. Sun's house had pink wallpaper and artwork stuck all over the walls. Sun hugged and hugged her friends. She brought them in, and they had some tea and for pudding they had tropical coconut sponge cake.

Having had such a great time with Sun on River Island, and having learnt so much from rebuilding their boat, Moon and Star used their skills and some palm trees to build a new house right next door to their best friend Sun.

Source: DM, Central Bedfordshire Council

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