Storyshares seeks to raise reading levels of forgotten tweens, teens and adults

Across the nation, reading and literacy proficiency is at an all time low. One program seeks to change the narrative.

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Students at KIPP Lynn in Ma. pictured working with Storyshares materials online. (Photo courtesy of Cricket Public Relations)

Students at KIPP Lynn in Ma. pictured working with Storyshares materials online. (Photo courtesy of Cricket Public Relations)

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Storyshares is a literacy hub with a mission to raise awareness about literacy and support reading and learning among school students and adults.

Utilizing “Remix Decodables,” the first ever decodable chapter book series, the company reinforces sounds and syllables for early and foundational literacy skills. The program prompts higher phonetic engagement for developing readers at third grade level and beyond, said CEO Louise Baigelman.

“That includes adult learners who have the same, if not bigger disconnect between what they want to read about or the characters in the books being relatable in another adult character, but still having the story told in an easy to read way.”

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Baigelman, who grew up in Haverford Pa., taught in Massachusetts and tutored extensively in various educational settings in Philadelphia. She founded Storyshares after her first year as an educator with middle school students whose reading proficiencies were “far below grade level.”

“I knew I couldn’t engage [the students] or help them improve their reading skills if I offered them books written for first graders,” Baigelman said. “Not only would books like ‘The Cat in the Hat’ be embarrassing for them, they’d fall so totally uninterested and definitely not something that could inspire a love for reading.”

Baigelman and Storyshares emerged as one of the four finalists at the 2023 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, succeeding as an innovative program among more than 300 competitors world-wide.

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John Gamba, Director of Innovative Programs at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, served as Storyshares’ strategy and research mentor at the competition. He stressed the importance of Storyshares in a post pandemic world.

“Coming out of the Pandemic, we saw this notion of the reading wars, we saw this crisis that two thirds of K-12 students, especially underrepresented students, couldn’t read at grade level.” Gamba said, “Louise and the team at Storyshares really zeroed in on this notion of ‘we gotta focus on readers beyond the 3rd grade.’”

Currently Storyshares has two programs, “These First Letters” and “Dream with Us.” “These First Letters,” released in October 2023, was designed to assist middle school students with literacy. “Dream with Us,” which launched in January 2024, was designed for late elementary students’ literacy. The third set, titled “The Hidden Gems”, targets high school students and will launch in March 2024. The series also includes classroom resources and tools for educators.

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