Story of the Year Contest
Story Shares’s annual Relevant Reads writing contest develops fresh content for its broad network of readers across 44 states and 26 countries who are working to improve their literacy skills.
Story Shares, a nonprofit organization devoted to inspiring reading practice and improving literacy skills, is launching their annual Relevant Reads writing contest. The contest opens August 23, 2016 with a submission deadline of December 31, 2016. The contest is seeking submissions from 1,000 to 10,000 words in a variety of genres including historical fiction, horror/suspense, fantasy, and overall diversity so that every reader is able to find his or her reflection in the books available. 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.
The goal of the Story Shares writing contest is to generate compelling and approachable content for readers who are in middle school, high school, and beyond while also using language that makes it more accessible and approachable for those who struggle with reading. Throughout the four month submissions window, the organization seeks to generate hundreds of such stories for their collection of books that are easy to read, and hard to put down.
Like most writing contests, the Story Shares Relevant Reads contest offers cash prizes ranging from $500 to $3,000, along with publication in both digital and print form. But unlike most writing contests, those who submit their work to Story Shares 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 consume. These readers use the stories in Story Shares library, either themselves or together with their teachers, to improve literacy skills.
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 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 of Relevant Reads, 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’s work empowers and inspires many kinds of struggling readers 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.
For more information about the organization and to participate in this innovative writing contest, visit StoryShares.org/contest.