DURHAM PUPIL WINS NATIONAL WRITING COMPETITION!
Ten-year-old Lleyton Rennie from Witton Gilbert, Durham, has been selected as the North East winner in Pearson’s national writing competition, My Twist on a Tale, Represent! His story raising awareness of autism and Attention Deficit Disorder, has been published today in a brand-new book.
In autumn 2022, digital media learning company Pearson encouraged children and young people between the ages of 4–19 to shine a light on the page, representing what, and who, they feel is being left out in literature today. All 18 winning entries have been compiled into a brand-new book, My Twist on a Tale: Represent!
Scooping the award in the North East category, Lleyton Rennie’s work, I have a dream, were chosen alongside 16 other fantastic stories and poems written by children across the country, including Belonging by KS5 winner Iona Mandal, Dear Ghetto Girl by South East winner Emma Appah, and One smile means a lot by North West winner Soha Shabaz.
Lleyton’s story is about Sharbat, a girl flown in by the military as a refugee of the Afghan-American war. Sharbat, who wears a hijab, arrives at school to find other children in the class whispering, pointing and laughing at her. She does not want to be disliked, and when the teacher punishes her classmates for their behaviour, she is worried that they will despise her.
This all changes though with the help of two people - a boy who shows her kindness and her councillor. Armed with their support, Sharbat feels anything is possible and the story ends with the message that we must never judge anyone until we have walked a mile in their shoes.
Lleyton, who attends Witton Gilbert Primary School in Durham, said: “No matter how skilled you are, if you really put your mind to it, you can achieve it. Like Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” You just need the right attitude towards it. I enjoyed having the opportunity to write and improve it as I went along as nothing is ever perfect.”
Students from across schools and colleges in the UK entered the competition, writing and reshaping their own diverse pieces. Eighteen winning entries were picked across categories including KS1 through to KS5, and all regions in the UK. The resulting book, My Twist on a Tale: Represent! is available to download on Pearson’s website, with all budding authors receiving their very own hard copy as part of their prize. Audio versions of each winning entry will soon be made available too!
Lindsay Nadin, at Pearson, said: “Lleyton should be extremely proud of the story he has written. Its message of kindness, understanding and inclusion is full of warmth and hope was excellently portrayed in the way Lleyton created a sense of empathy, and shared the experience of being an outsider.
“At Pearson we are committed to inspiring diversity and inclusion among young people, and shining a light on new voices and topics that might not be found elsewhere. We’ve recently made our Bug Club Reading series bigger and better than ever because we want all children to be able to develop a lifelong love of reading, and to feel that our books are for them, whatever their ability, background or identity.
“We were thrilled at the brilliant standard of entries to My Twist on a Tale this year, and feel honoured to share this provocative, gripping, reflective collection of talent with a national audience. Everyone who submitted a piece should be very proud of their creation.”
Sue Bastone, former chair at the School Library Association, who judged the Northeast category, said: “I loved the way Lleyton put himself into the shoes of an Afghan refugee. His descriptions and messages about being non-judgemental is very mature. A feel-good story!”
The competition was supported by a range of partners including Ace Centre, Authors Aloud, Coram Beanstalk, Governor Cymru Services, Love Reading, LGBTed, National Literacy Trust, NASS, Parentkind, School Library Association, Stamma and The Reading Agency.
To find out more about Pearson’s My Twist on a Tale: Represent! and to download a copy of the book, please visit go.pearson.com/represent or follow us on Twitter @PearsonSchools, Facebook @PearsonUKSchools and Instagram @pearsonprimaryuk
To find out more about Pearson's Bug Club range , visit www.pearsonprimary.co.uk/BugClub2