CommonLit Archive Call For High Profile Authors

Build CommonLit’s free library for millions of students and teachers by writing a short story for publication

About CommonLit

CommonLit is an educational technology nonprofit based in Washington, DC, dedicated to advancing children’s literacy and preparing all students for success in college and beyond. CommonLit serves 7 million teachers and students per month, and 70% of schools using the program serve a majority of students who are low-income. We also offer authentic Spanish language lessons for English Language Learners, as well as for students in Latin America and Mexico. Our expansive curriculum and digital library features thousands of reading passages for grades 3–12, all provided free of charge for educational use. We currently have over 200 CommonLit Originals on our site, but we need more. Read one of our stories called “Laura’s Key” here.

Advancing Equity and Representation in Reading Education

After years of curating from the available canon of short fiction for middle school and high school students, we recognized that there is an urgent need and national demand for a more diverse range of voices and stories featuring protagonists of color. We aim to meet this need.

In 2020, our nonprofit was awarded a William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant to support our work in providing students with reading passages that serve as “windows and mirrors” into their world. Although we are already working with a network of up-and-coming authors in the Washington, DC, region, we are reaching out to high profile authors as well in hopes of soliciting pieces for this project.

Our Ask: Contribute a Piece of Short Fiction to the CommonLit Library

We are asking high profile authors to consider writing an openly licensed short story for CommonLit. The themes we are especially interested in highlighting are overcoming adversity, celebrating differences, navigating hard choices, etc. Your work will help build our library of high quality fiction stories and will be used and shared by millions of students and educators across the United States, Latin America, and Mexico.

All CommonLit originals are licensed under the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license which allows our teachers and students to re-use and share the work, provided that they include an attribution, use it for noncommercial purposes only, and create derivatives of the work under the same license.

We understand that authors may be concerned with their work being modified or edited by subsequent users, so we are open to protecting your original work by adding the ND (NoDerivative) element to the license making it CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. ND restricts users from making modifications and edits to your work so that it retains its original integrity, even when teachers share it. All other license permissions explained above apply.

Two students on their laptops completing a CommonLit lesson.

OER Democratizes Access to Knowledge

Teachers and schools’ reliance on OER has skyrocketed during the pandemic, especially in the nation’s most under-resourced schools. Open Educational Resources (OER) are resources that are openly-licensed. Because OER are free, they expand equitable access to learning and make it possible for materials providers to distribute high-quality learning materials widely, without red tape. Teachers and schools’ reliance on OER has skyrocketed during the pandemic, especially in the nation’s most under-resourced schools. In alignment with our nonprofit mission, all of CommonLit-written lesson components are openly licensed. We also identified a need to produce more high quality OER fiction to eliminate the barriers teachers face when they try to share short stories protected under copyright.

We are reaching out directly to high profile authors because while we have curated a rich library, we find that teachers tend to gravitate towards authors that are familiar to them and look to them to provide rich content, urgent messaging, and timely themes.

Benefits and Appreciation

Your time and work is valuable to us! All authors will receive compensation and will be listed on our contributor’s page. Stories will include an author biography that will connect readers to your other work.

Every day, teachers struggle to find high-quality fiction worthy of their students’ time and attention. Your contribution to the CommonLit digital library will benefit millions of low-income students globally for years to come.