Our Story

Story Shares is a non-profit organization
devoted to inspiring reading practice
and improving literacy skills.

Our Purpose

Story Shares is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted to inspiring reading practice and improving literacy skills. Our library is full of Relevant Reads—books that are both compelling and approachable for struggling teen and young adult readers.

The Story Shares digital writing tool enables writers, educators, and students to create and publish Relevant Reads. These books cover a range of age, interest, and reading levels, and are also enhanced with features to make reading more accessible and fun.

By leveraging the combined powers of great books and interactive web design, our literacy hub brings together a community to engage and support readers who struggle.

The Problem
The millions of readers who complete elementary school reading below grade level are unable to read about the characters and plots written for their age group. The stories they can read are meant for a less mature audience. At best, they hide this by reading only in private. At worst (and most often) they simply give up reading altogether. Given the daily importance of reading in all aspects of life, lacking this crucial skill negatively impacts everything from academic performance to everyday communication.
By the Numbers
  • As many as 90 million teens and adults in America lack crucial literacy skills1
  • 70% of middle and high school students require some form of reading remediation2
  • 26% of 12th graders graduate reading below the basic level.3
  • The older they get, the harder it becomes to find content that is both relevant for their age and readable at their level. Thus, readers are not motivated or interested, and they often stop reading altogether.
Our Solution

We help generate and then distribute new stories aimed at older students who read below grade level, specifically ensuring that the content is interesting at their age, and readable at their level.

To do so, we are building the Story Shares Hub to bring together authors, readers, and educators. For authors, the Hub provides a digital book builder to guide the creation of just-right content, and access to a large group of potential readers. For readers and educators, the Hub provides a library of newly created just-right content, distributed on a platform with built-in reading assists to make it even more approachable.

Our History

From 2013 - 2014, our team partnered with Benetech, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), Orca Book Publishers, and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and Jabico Enterprises to run the Story Shares $50K Writing Contest. The contest sought to expand the body of contemporary reading material available to struggling readers. The shared goal was to make both reading and writing these stories easy and fun. The Story Shares Contest was, at its core, a project to test the true existence of this problem and the viability of our proposed solution.

The contest concluded in February 2014, and the results were powerful. We are now building on this momentum to continue generating and distributing a resource of high-interest, low literacy content for older struggling readers.

Our Key Principles
Part 1: Reader Engagement
  • Readers bring unique needs, interests, lenses, and abilities. We can meet readers where they are with both content and technology
  • A reader's engagement is a crucial factor in their ability to improve their reading abilities
  • Reader choice is a key factor of engagement
  • Content that is culturally relevant, age-appropriate, and relatable is key for engagement
  • Opportunities for social interaction deepen engagement
  • Opportunities for personalization/customization deepen engagement
  • Aesthetics are a key component of engagement and appeal
Part 2: Content Creation
  • There are tons of writers out there, many who seek outlets and exposure for their work
  • There are tons of readers and educators out there who constantly seek more content that is higher interest but also more readable
  • In spite of the huge population of struggling readers 10 and up, most writers are largely unaware of this population and their reading needs
  • With incentives, simple guidance and digital tools, writers will create high-quality content aligned with the needs of the audience
  • We can position the Story Shares Hub in between these two populations, and provide a platform to connect them, which will streamline the process and enable writers to create content for the readers and teachers who seek it (a pipeline for ongoing content creation and consumption)
Part 3: Technology
  • Technology facilitates interaction between these groups (writers on the one side, and readers plus their supporters on the other side)
  • Technology enables the creation of content that is fluid, adaptable, interactive, social, and accessible
  • Text can be enriched, and engagement deepened, with the incorporation of multimedia and Universal Design for Learning