Story Shares, a nonprofit organization devoted to inspiring young readers and writers while improving literacy skills, has launched its annual “Relevant Reads Story of the Year” writing contest. The call-for-entries began on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, and has a submission deadline of Saturday, December 31, 2016. The contest seeks submissions of novels for young readers in a variety of genres including historical fiction, horror/suspense, fantasy and science fiction featuring overall cultural diversity. The contest also has a “For Teens by Teens” category and accepts submissions by youth under the age of 18 who wish to contribute their unique voices to the organization’s growing library. Submissions can range in length from 1,000 to 10,000 words. Full details and submission guidelines area available at StoryShares.org/contest.
Like most writing contests, the Story Shares “Relevant Reads” contest offers cash prizes along with publication in both digital and print form. Awards range from $500 to $3,000 but unlike most writing contests, there is no submission fee. Those who submit work to Story Shares will have a real opportunity to make a difference. The organization has established a broad network of readers across 44 states and 26 countries who are waiting for fresh content to broaden their horizons. These readers use the stories in the Story Shares library to improve literacy skills, either on their own or with their teachers.
Throughout the four-month submissions window, the nonprofit organization seeks to generate hundreds of stories for its collection of books — ones that encourage a lifelong reading habit by being easy to read and hard to put down, otherwise known to literacy professionals as “high interest/low level” content.
The goal of the Story Shares writing contest is to generate compelling and approachable material for readers who are in middle school, high school, and beyond while using language that makes it more accessible and approachable for those who struggle with reading. A diverse range of stories is sought so that every reader is able to find his or her reflection in the books available.
Writers will not only have a wide audience at their disposal, but even more importantly, their stories will become a part of the organization’s mission to change the literacy landscape for teens and young adults around the country (and the world) who struggle to read.
“Our writers and the stories they submit have an enormous impact. Tens of millions of teens and young adults lack the literacy skills needed to read the books written for their age and interests,” says Louise Baigelman, co-founder and executive director for Story Shares. “The value of literacy is so often understated when really it is a critical stone in the foundation of a quality life and a strong-functioning society. Each book reaches thousands upon thousands of students, improving their abilities to read and write while preparing them for greater academic and professional success.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as many as 90 million teens and adults in America lack crucial literacy skills, and they don’t have the tools they need to change that. Just 13 percent of African-American, 16 percent of Hispanic-American and 18 percent of American Indian fourth graders score at the proficient level. Close to 70 percent of high school students need some form of reading remediation, and two out of every three students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade end up in prison or on welfare.
Given the daily importance of reading in all aspects of life, lacking this crucial skill negatively impacts everything from academic performance to everyday communication. It also creates a cycle that is difficult to break. A lack of literacy skills makes it difficult for adults to stay informed, to participate fully in society, to continue to learn, and to raise their children as readers.
“The Story Shares annual writing contest enables us to build out our library, which meets the needs of the millions of readers who don’t currently have a shelf of their own in the library,” adds Baigelman. “The books produced through our first two contests have inspired students who previously hated reading to read and write. In addition, they have provided teachers with the tools they need to engage their discouraged students.”
Story Shares works to empower and inspire struggling readers of all kinds, including English language learners, students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and students from low-income communities who have fallen behind in literacy skills and reading comprehension. The organization’s mission is truly a matter of changing an entire landscape.
More information about the “Relevant Reads Story of the Year” writing contest including contest guidelines, submission instructions and official contest rules are available at StoryShares.org/contest.
ABOUT STORY SHARES
Story Shares is devoted to inspiring reading practice and improving literacy skills in teens and young adults. The nonprofit organization’s collaborative digital literacy hub provides relevant and readable content for students who read below grade level beyond elementary school. By leveraging the combined powers of interactive web design and best practices in literacy instruction, their platform brings together writers, readers and educators to engage and support struggling readers. For more information, visit StoryShares.org