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Frequenty Asked Questions

Everything you need to know for the best Storyshares user experience.
What is Storyshares?

We're dedicated to dreaming up a new shelf in the global library filled with diverse, compelling, and accessible books to engage & inspire the millions of underrepresented teens and adults and transform them into readers. You can learn more here!

Where do your books come from? Who writes them?

Ah, our special sauce! Our library is a "crowdsourced" effort, meaning that we tap into the existing community of talented, passionate writers out there (of which there are so many!) to create our books. We provide the guidelines, support, and incentives they need to create our easy to read, hard to put down stories, and then we connect those stories with our large network of readers in need of them (at this time, our books are being read in classrooms across all 50 states and more than 180 countries around the world!)

What is your process for vetting content?

Once a book has been submitted, our dedicated team of editors will review it in depth to make sure that it aligns with our unique standards for publication. This process typically takes about 6 weeks, after which time we'll notify the author if their work has been chosen for publication. During periods of extremely high submissions, this process may take longer (our annual contest season, for example.) Those stories that do meet our requirements then go through our internal revision process, where our team will refine the text, format, and design for publication. We also assess and label the text's readability during this phase.

When is your next writing contest?

Our next annual writing contest will be held in early fall 2024. We will be sharing more information as it nears, both on social media and in our newsletter. Check back soon!

What does Storyshares offer for schools?

Storyshares offers high/low and decodable books in both paperback and e-book form, for readers in grade 3 and up. We offer a premium subscription to our digital library platform, which allows teachers to access our entire library of diverse, intriguing, and accessible stories, provides tools and resources to strengthen literacy skills (and track development) within the classroom, offers students an enhanced eReader with built-in reading assists, and more! We also offer Professional Learning for schools. libraries and districts.

Do you have books for elementary school students? Middle school? High school? Older?

Yes (yes, yes, yes!) Our current collection is home to books that appeal to late elementary school readers and up. These titles are created to engage any students who read below their grade level. You can easily search our shelves by interest (age) level by heading over to our eibrary. We are constantly expanding our available selections for each of these age levels, so be sure to check back regularly!

How do I find books by age and level?

You can search for books by interest (age) and reading levels (as well as by genre, theme, and category) by heading to our eLibrary. Use the drop-downs on this page to hone in on your next "just right" book! For more details, check out the filtered library demo video above.

Do you have books written in Spanish?

Yes! We have small set of Spanish titles here and plan to include more in the future. Check back soon!

Can I submit content for your blog/teacher portal?

You sure can! We're always looking for fresh content pertaining to all things reading, writing, and literacy instruction. Reach out to to pitch your ideas or submit your articles/tools for review!

Can I participate in a Storyshares pilot study?

Yes! We love to pilot our platform as much as we can, to make sure we are hearing from the readers and teachers who use Storyshares resources. That way, we can craft our tools and content in line with user needs. If you are interested in helping us pilot test, learn more here and send a quick note to

Can students write and publish books too?

Absolutely! We encourage it! In fact, several of the award-winning and most-read titles in our library have been written by student authors, such as Escaping The Storm, Argentum, The Secret Goldfish, and Keeping Time!

Do you have results and testimonials from other classrooms to share?

We do! You can check out what our partners and fellow innovators in the literacy field have to say here.

I'm interested in this platform for my school, but we can't afford the full-school price. Do you have other options?

We're committed to getting our books and resources into the hands of those who can benefit from them, and often have donors who are interested in supporting this work. You can reach out to anytime to discuss financing options to fit your needs.

Do you offer site trials, so we can experiment with the site before subscribing?

We offer teacher and student demo logins to those looking to preview our e-library before subscribing. To receive your login, reach out to

Do you offer professional development for schools and teachers?

Yes! Learn more here and here.

How do I cancel my premium subscription?

All subscriptions are managed through Paypal. If you need to cancel your subscription, head to, locate your Storyshares subscription and cancel it. The cancelation will flow through to Storyshares directly.

For Teachers
What kinds of things can I do from my teacher dashboard?

From the teacher dashboard, you can dive directly into your classrooms, where you can make assignments, generate discussions, and monitor student progress. You can also access your bookshelves, browse carefully curated educator resources via the teacher portal, create your own stories and quizzes, and more. If you have ideas for additional features you'd like to see, please let us know at! Watch a video tutorial here.

How do I create a class?

Visit your teacher dashboard, select "my classes" and then "add class." Name your class and click "create," and you will see that class on your dashboard.

How do I add students to my class?

Select the class you just created on your dashboard. Then, click the tab that says "manage class". From there, you can add a student individually (by selecting "add student" and inputting their site username). You can also upload a roster with multiple students at once.

Can I add more than one teacher to a single class?

Yes! You can easily add a co-teacher to your classroom dashboard. Additional teachers can be added via "my classes" on the teacher dashboard. Select "join class" on the right hand side, and then input the classroom code to join as a co-teacher.

How do I assign books to my students?

A few quick steps:

  1. Browse the library to find the book you wish to assign. Select "add to bookshelf" for any books that pique your interest.
  2. Next, go to your dashboard, select "my classes," and then select the right class.
  3. On the class dashboard, select the button that says "assign book."
  4. Use the dropdown to select the book you want to assign, and then click "assign."
  5. All students in the selected class will now see the assigned book on their "assigned books" dashboard tab!
How do I assign quizzes to my students?

Follow these steps to assign quizzes to your classes:

Part 1: assign the book

  1. First, you must choose the book where you will be adding a quiz:
    1. Browse the library pages to identify the books you want.
    2. Select "add to bookshelf" for your choices (or for any books you may want to revisit later!)
  2. Next, go to your dashboard, select "my classes," and then select the class you want.
  3. There, select the button that says "assign book."
  4. Use the dropdown to select the book you want to assign, and then click "assign."
  5. All students in the selected class will now see the assigned book on their "assigned books" dashboard tab.

Part 2: create and assign the quiz

  1. Select your class from the "my classes" page, and then select the "quizzes" button on the class dashboard.
  2. To create a quiz, select "add quiz." Choose the book you're quizzing students on from the dropdown, and create a title for your quiz.
  3. Once you hit "save," you will be prompted to add questions, and multiple choice response options. Click to indicate the correct response.
  4. After you've added your questions and hit "save," you will see your quiz in the "quizzes" list for that class. Click "assign to class" so your students can see and take that quiz on their dashboard.
  5. To review scores after students have taken a quiz, select "view results" there as well.
I just created and assigned a quiz, but my students don't see it on their dashboards! What went wrong?

Did you assign the book to your class first? Remember, both the quiz and the book it's assessing must be assigned to the class in order for your students to take the quiz. You can test this out by selecting "unassign" on the quiz dashboard, following the steps above to assign a book, and then re-assigning the quiz immediately after.

How do I start a class discussion board for my students?

To start a class discussion board, head over to your main teacher dashboard and click on My Classes, then select the class you'd like to create the discussion for. From there, you'll find "Discussions" as one of the blue tabs in your center screen. Click this, and then "add discussion." There you are!

Where do I see the books I've assigned to my classes?

From your teacher dashboard, you can select "my classes," and then select a class. From there, you will notice a tab called "assign books." Click that tab, and scroll down to see books you have already assigned.

How do I assign a book to an individual student?

This feature is currently being built, so stay tuned for how to do it once ready.

What readability measures do you provide for each book?

Our books have GLE, Lexile, and F&P levels, as well as interest levels (age).

How do I get started with my teacher dashboard/profile?

We've got you covered! You can find the teacher dashboard tutorial in PDF form here, or watch a quick demo video here.

For Writers
Who will my readers be?

Teens and young adults, grades 3 and up, who are struggling or striving readers. You're writing to create "just-right" books for these readers: books that are interesting and relevant to readers in grades 3 and up, but which use approachable language and formatting.

More specifically, you're writing for the eighth grader who wants to take part in her friends' discussion of Harry Potter, but it's too difficult for her to read. For the high-schooler who can't help his grandmother read her prescription bottle. For the 60% of U.S. high school graduates who are reading below the proficient level, and the many more around the world doing the same. For the students who want to practice, and want to improve their reading skills, but for whom the books they find interesting are too difficult, and the ones they can read are immature, boring, and even embarrassing. You're writing to create "just-right" books for their needs: books that are interesting to older readers, but which are written with language and formatting that is simple to absorb and understand.

What specific guidelines should I follow when writing for your audience?

When you create a book, there will be a "guidelines" tab available for your review throughout the writing process.

Can I pitch my story idea to your team before I begin writing?

We receive many submissions and we're always happy to review them and provide direction for your writing. We review submissions quarterly. Please send a note to for more details.

If my story is selected for publishing, do I maintain rights as the author?

Yes. We ask for shared rights to all work published on our site, meaning that both the author and our platform have rights to the stories.

What are the benefits of using the Storyshares writer tool to create books?

The Storyshares writer tool was designed with our specific audience of readers in mind. In addition to basic writing tools and a cover design builder, this tool allows you to preview your book as it will appear in our library. But most importantly of all, we've developed a "reading level analyzer" to help ensure that your story is being written at the reading level you intend.

How does the reading level analyzer work?

To use the reading level analyzer, visit the writing page and begin creating your book. On the left hand side, you will see an option called "reading level." Click that, and then click the button that says "show analyzer." You will see a chart on your screen. As you input text to your book, the chart will respond by providing the reading level for each part.

Can I submit my story as a word doc or PDF?

Absolutely! If you'd prefer to write off-site, you can always send us your completed stories as docs or pdfs. Submit via email to

I've never written a story in my life. Should I still try?

Absolutely. We've been told by many of our authors (who've gone on to write several books) that Storyshares is where their writing journeys began. You'll be surprised what you're able to do if you set your mind to the task and your pen to the paper!

Language: Is it okay to use strong/explicit language in my writing? Is swearing okay? Are controversial/difficult topics okay to write about?

The short answer is: yes. We do not want to limit your story-telling by placing restrictions on language/content. However, there are a few things to consider: does your strong/explicit language serve a purpose, other than shock value (for example, adding emotional intensity to a particular scene, or making a character seem more relatable, etc.) And, when handling a difficult topic, does your story ultimately offer readers a healthy perspective overall? For example, we've received several stories in the past dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts, some of which we have published in our library. Those that were not published tended to romanticize suicide as an option, while those that we published showed readers that getting help is key.

It is also important to note that if we like your story but feel that parts of it should be scaled down, we will reach out to you about making some alterations.

Do you accept poems, plays, and other formats beyond short stories?

Any style of writing is acceptable (and encouraged!) so long as it falls within our guidelines, and is both interesting and approachable for striving readers.

How long from the point of submission until I know if my story has been selected for publication? How will I be notified?

We are a small team, and response times may vary, however, we strive to read all submissions within six weeks of their submission. We will notify you by email if your story is selected for publication.

When is your next contest?

Our next annual writing contest will be held this fall. We will be sharing more information as it nears, both on social media and in our newsletter. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter (below!) if you haven't already!

Where can I find the terms and conditions for submitting my story?

You can find the terms and conditions here!

For Contests
Who should enter this contest?

Writers of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels (educators, parents, students, and beyond!)

Who am I writing for?

Students in grades 3 and up, who are struggling or striving readers. You're writing to create "just-right" books for these readers: books that are interesting and relevant to teens and young adults, but which use approachable language and formatting.

How many stories can I submit?

You may submit as many stories as you'd like within the contest submission period.

Can I submit one story to multiple award categories?

Yes. You can submit the same story to as many different categories as is relevant to your content. You may also submit multiple stories to the same category.

How do I identify which category I'm submitting for?

You will be prompted to select a category(ies) when you submit your work.

Can I use my own illustrations and photography?

You may include images in your submission as long as you are the owner or have curated them from open-source, free-for-commercial-use platforms (ex. We reserve the right to remove/replace images should your submission be selected for publication for quality purposes.

Will my story be published in the Storyshares library, even if I don't win?

Yes, as long as our panel of judges decide that it is compelling for our audience and adheres to our guidelines.

How will I be notified if I win?

You will receive an email.

How do I submit?

If you haven't already, go to and sign up for a free writer account. Once you've created a login, you can click "Write" in the top navigation to begin. When your book is ready, click "submit for review" in the left navigation.

Who's judging my story?

We have an amazing panel of judges, filled with authors, educators, and entrepreneurs who are sending ripples across the literacy field. We'll have more information available on our 2024 judges shortly.

Do stories need to be written in English?

We welcome stories in all languages!

My story is longer than the world limit found in your guidelines. Can I still submit?

The goal is for these stories to be accessible, and for this, the format and length are crucial. If your submission is slightly longer than the 15,000 word limit for the Diversity and Character-Based categories, it will still be considered. However, for a greater chance of winning, we recommend you go back through to remove unnecessary words and elements. If it is much longer, you could also consider breaking it into a two-part series.

I’m a teacher and would like my students to participate. Can they?

Yes! In fact, many of our previous contest finalists were students!

I've never written a story in my life. Should I still try?

Absolutely. We've been told by many of our authors (who've gone on to write several books) that Storyshares is where their writing journeys began. You'll be surprised what you're able to do if you set your mind to the task and your pen to the paper!

Can I enter if I am not a resident of the United States?

Yes, as long as your country of residence does not have laws that prohibit it. Find more details in our Official Rules.

I submitted my story weeks ago and have not received any notifications. When can I expect an update?

We receive a very large number of submissions per contest and are unable to guarantee a response to your submission before our April 5th announcements.

My story was not accepted into your library at this time. Can I submit another story?


Am I eligible to enter if I have won previous contests?

Yes! We'd love to read more of your work.

Could I create a series for the contest?

Could I create a series for the contest?

On Readability & Literacy Instruction
What does it mean to be a struggling reader?

There are many reasons why someone might be considered a struggling reader. For our purposes, a struggling reader is a reader who is behind their age or grade level in reading for any number of reasons. For example, an adolescent might have challenges reading because he/she has a specific learning disability, such as dyslexia, which affects the ability to decode words. Organizational challenges, memory or attention challenges, processing disorders, a developmental disability, and autism are some other possible reasons for reading difficulties. The term also applies to English Language Learners who are still acquiring language, vocabulary, and new reading skills. In addition, many students in low income or impoverished environments are beginning readers.

What does “high-interest” mean?

The key to high-interest is writing about age-appropriate, relatable content. This applies to characters and plot. Since our readers are teens and young adults, characters featured should be teens and young adults as well. Plotlines should focus on events/milestones/day-to-day challenges and other experiences that are relatable to teens/adults. The look and feel of text is also important. Graphics, if used, should be mature and compelling.

What are different categories of vocabulary?

There are many different ways to categorize vocabulary. For example:

Tier 1: Basic and General Vocabulary (basic, everyday words, ie- old, happy, run, baby)

Tier 2: Descriptive Vocabulary (commonly used in mature language settings, across various contexts & topics, key for everyday comprehension. ie- explain, mature, compare).

Tier 3: Precision Vocabulary (low-frequency, mostly domain-specific. ie- pulmonologist)

Sight words: Sight words (also known as high-frequency words) are basic words that are encountered often in early reading. These words may be challenging to sound out, because spelling is not straightforward or does not follow typical decoding patterns. Therefore, these words often must be recognized or learned by sight. Ex: "the" "where" "two" "laugh"

Dolch's word lists and Fry's word lists are both ways of categorizing sight words. The Dolch Word Lists is older, and includes the 220 most common words. They are broken down by grade level, ranging from pre-primer list to 3rd grade list. Fry's Lists are more current and comprehensive than Dolch lists. They include 1,000 words, broken into 10 lists of words, based on frequency of use and difficulty.

What are the different reading level measurements and definitions?

There are many ways to measure reading level. Below are details on certain categories:

Grade Level Equivalent:

  1. Reading levels are benchmarked by grade levels - ranging from pre-primer (pre-k) through 8th grade.

DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment):

  1. Levels A1 - 80 (numerical except for earliest levels)
  2. DRA is administered multiple times a year in elementary grades, paired with a running record, to assess student ability to read new text at an independent level.
  3. The DRA and running record assess for a range of skills: oral reading (accuracy), fluency (speed/expression), and retelling/comprehension.


  1. Lexile levels range from 200L to 1700L+
  2. They measure a book's difficulty as well as student reading ability.
  3. A reader's lexile level may be measured by Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) assessment
  4. Lexile is calculated with an equation based mostly on word frequency and sentence strength.

Guided Reading Level: (GRL)

  1. Books are labeled from A - Z. Multiple letters correlate with each grade level.
  2. Level is usually determined by a benchmark book assessment, based on readers' ability to read, retell, and answer questions about text.

Fountas and Pinnell:

  1. Guided Reading Levels A - Z+
  2. Type of guided reading level measurement (which also includes guided reading level strategies).
  3. Highlights specific behaviors and understandings so that teachers can easily notice, teach for and support learners at each level from A to Z+.

Reading A-Z:

  1. Online program that provides printable books by level + benchmark books
  2. Guided Reading Levels A - Z
  3. Also utilizes GRL, though with slightly different A-Z classifications


  1. Assesses text based on 5 characteristics of text: Narrativity, Syntactic Simplicity, Word Concreteness, Referential Cohesion, and Deep Cohesion. The five text easability scores are based on a wide range of linguistic features calculated by Coh-Metrix.
  2. The calculated level also correlates with a grade level.
What is decoding?

Decoding skills are skills used to make sense of printed words:

  1. Recognizing the basic sounds and sound blends (phonemes) that make up a word
  2. Recognizing / analyzing a printed word to connect it to the spoken word it represents
What does it mean to struggle with comprehension, but not decoding?

Readers struggle to comprehend text for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, a reader can decode words effortlessly and fluently, but still be a "beginning reader" because they struggle to comprehend the text. Comprehension can be impeded by vocabulary, sentence structure, fluency, as well as lack of reading skills and strategies. Readers with more severe disabilities may struggle with the comprehension of abstract concepts. Students who are English Language Learners may struggle with comprehension because of vocabulary or lack of context/background knowledge. Some readers may struggle with comprehension because of lack of practice applying skills/strategies to understand text. A reader with autism may struggle with text comprehension because of hyperlexia, which means that they can skillfully decode words, but struggle to comprehend the meaning of what is read.

What is reading fluency?

Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression. Fluency is important for reading, as it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension.

  1. Fluent readers can recognize words and comprehend meaning at same time
  2. Readers who are not fluent must focus attention/energy on decoding words and can't simultaneously build text comprehension.
  3. Fluency doesn't ensure comprehension, but comprehension is difficult without fluency.
  4. Fluency's 4 main components are: rate, accuracy, phrasing, and expression.
What is independent reading?

Independent reading refers to the task of reading alone. It is the level at which readers can apply skills and absorb knowledge entirely on their own.

What is guided reading?

Guided reading is usually done in a class or small-group context, where teachers actively support students' reading comprehension throughout a text or story. Students are taught to use strategies such as visualizing, predicting, connecting, inferring, questioning, retelling and summarizing. They may also work on word-reading skills (decoding), vocabulary support, or fluency.

How does Storyshares align with my structured literacy program?

We are happy to provide alignment charts that show how Storyshares decodable chapter books align with the intervention program and/or curriculum you use. Send a quick note to info@storyshares with the name of the program(s) you use.