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Calling All Teen, YA Writers! Story Shares Launches 2016 "Relevant Reads Story of the Year Contest"


Calling all writers, teachers, students and parents. Story Shares is back bolstering their mission to build a meaningful collection of free books online that will appeal to teen readers who read below grade level and who need support for their literacy needs.  

The launch of the annual Relevant Reads Story of the Year Contest is officially a favorite time of the year at Story Shares office. Writers have from now to Dec. 31 to submit their works. Winners are announced on March 1, 2017. 

Approachable Stories For Special Readers

The 2016 competition offers five book categories plus cash and publication rights for winners. "Our goal, as always, is to expand the number and variety of engaging and approachable stories in our library so as to better serve the struggling readers in middle school, high school, and beyond."

This specialized online library platform is designed to be fluid, adaptable, interactive, social, and accessible. The current collection contains books that appeal to teenage interests but at a lower reading level than same-age peers. Story Shares, a non-profit organization, exists to provide resources for literacy activities that support their schoolwork and develops the habit of reading for pleasure during and after K-12 schooling. It complements the work of AIM-VA and its counterparts in every state to provide eligible students with free accessible learning materials through funding from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. More information follows. 

Stories Meeting Unique Needs

The books from past Story Shares contests have been read by tens of thousands of students and educators spanning 44 states and 26 countries, This year's contest features five categories that will expand the diversity of available books:

  1. Celebrate Diversity Award – Grand Prize: $3,000 plus publication in digital and print formats: Every reader should be able to find his or her reflection in this library, so the search is on for stories that are culturally relevant and inclusive of all backgrounds and experiences. Characters could include the LGBTQIA community, people of color, and people with disabilities. Stories should showcase gender diversity and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Stories written in Spanish are accepted!
  2. Fantasy Award: $500 + publication in digital and print formats: Submit stories that help readers step beyond the limits of reality into new worlds and adventures. "If a dragon or two should present itself along the way, we won’t complain!"
  3. Horror/Suspense Award: $500 + publication in digital and print formats: "We’re looking for stories to send chills down our readers’ spines and make them sleep with their hands and feet tucked tightly under the blankets." Creepy or unnerving tales are welcome here. 
  4. Historical Fiction Award: $500 + publication in digital and print formats: Stories in this category should "combine creativity and research." Writers should anchor characters and experiences in another time that immerses readers in the past. 
  5. For Teens by Teens Award: $500 + publication in digital and print formats: "This prize goes to the best student-created story. The winner will be featured in the “For Teens, By Teens” section of the library.


  1. Contest guidelines can be found here,
  2. More information is available on the contest page.
  3. The current library is comprised of books from previous contests.  
  4. Read about the problem of teen readers who read below grade level


Accessible educational materials (AEM) help to create access to the curriculum for students with dyslexia, learning disabilities, vision or physical challenges, and others. A federally funded AEM program in every state assures that books in alternative formats are provided free of charge to eligible students with disabilities whose education teams take action. The AEM program operates under a legal exception to federal copyright law. Check out the AIM-VA home page to learn more about eligibility in Virginia. In other states, contact a special education teacher, a school administrator or download a list of AEM state contacts.External Link to AEM state contacts (New Window).

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