As students learn to read more fluently, many develop a passion for writing. Stories are inspiring and life-changing for students of all ages—and at some point, many of them wonder, “Could I do that, too? Could I write something that other people will enjoy?”

Fifteen-year-old Justin M. Anderson had these questions and decided it was never too early to pursue his dream. A couple years ago, he published his debut book, Saving Stripes: A Kitty’s Story, a true tale about a cat he rescued. The book’s success led Justin to wonder why more teens weren’t getting published. Lack of access seemed to be part of the problem. Justin couldn’t find a publishing company devoted exclusively to publishing the work of teens. So, with the help of his parents, he created one.

Justin’s company, Sigma’s Bookshelf, accepts manuscript submissions from anyone aged 12 to 19. If the manuscript is deemed worthy of publication, Sigma’s Bookshelf will publish the book, and the teen author will earn royalties from the book’s sales. Sigma’s Bookshelf does not charge a fee for submissions and relies on grants to help cover the cost of publication.

When we at Read Naturally learned about Sigma’s Bookshelf, we couldn’t wait to spread the word. As we wrote about in a recent blog post, reading and writing go hand in hand. Avid readers are better writers and vice versa. When both skills are cultivated, literacy soars. If you have a student who loves to write, encourage that student to take his or her writing to the next level.

According to Justin’s mother, Rachel Anderson, Sigma’s Bookshelf is a nice complement to what teachers are already doing during Novel Writing Month in November and I Love to Read Month in February. Summer break is also a wonderful time for authors-to-be to work on their material. Sigma’s Bookshelf hopes that teachers around the country—and the world—will encourage their students to submit manuscripts.

Justin’s advice to aspiring teen authors is as follows: "Don’t think of publishing a book at your age as something unusual or unachievable. If you have an idea, just start writing and know there is a place out there for you to share it.”

We’re inspired by Justin’s success as a young author and publisher, and we’re excited that Sigma’s Bookshelf is helping to promote literacy and make teen voices heard.