Story Pirates Encourage Imagination and Empower Children to Become Storytellers

A sense of imagination is a highly valuable asset. Encouraging creativity and free-flowing storytelling is one of the best things we can do for our children. Story Pirates, a national education and media organization, is doing just that by celebrating the words and ideas of young people.


“We aren’t your typical pirates,” says co-founder Benjamin Salka. “What the Story Pirates steal are… stories. Stories written by kids ranging from crazy, imaginative ideas that only a kid could dream up, like alien tickle monsters who invade Brooklyn to rid the world of skinny jeans, to well structured persuasive essays about Amelia Earhart and other women who changed history, to scientific concepts like the spinning of electrons or the ethics of colonizing space.”

Goodlifer: Story Pirates Encourage Imagination and Empower Children to Become Storytellers

The organization’s original arts and literacy programs help create creative, confident, literate students equipped with a variety of tools for written, verbal, and artistic expression. The program has been shown to improve the relevance and effectiveness of both in-school and after-school learning, and helps build strong communities where children’s voices are not only heard, but celebrated.

Mike Birbiglia and Kristen Schaal on stage for the Story Pirates 3rd annual "After School Special" fundraiser in New York City.

Mike Birbiglia and Kristen Schaal on stage for the Story Pirates 3rd annual “After School Special” fundraiser in New York City. Photo via Zimbio

Founded in 2003 by a group of actors who wanted to bring quality education to resource-challenged public schools in New York City, Story Pirates has grown into a well-respected education and media organization providing services to over 200 schools and community-based organizations around the country. The organization’s purpose is to show kids everywhere that their ideas, words and stories are important. The children’s stories form the basis for a “big, loud, outrageous, musical sketch comedy show” performed by professional artists like Kristen Schaal, a founding member (who provided the voice for Diary of a Blueberry, above).

Jon Stewart with the Story Pirates on The Daily Show

Jon Stewart with the Story Pirates on The Daily Show. Photo via Benjamin Salka

“The Story Pirates teach kids a love of creative writing,” says The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart. “It helps kids to see that their words and ideas are really important. I believe that what the Story Pirates are doing is helping America, nay, humanity  — helping humanity itself. It’s crazy entertaining.”

The confidence and self-expression skills that these kids learn by participating in Story Pirates programs will help them all through adulthood. “We think kids have the best ideas,” says Salka. “And we know that within a few decades, today’s nine-year-olds are going to be running the world. We believe it’s important to show these kids now that their words, their stories, and their ideas really matter.”

The Story Pirates on The Brian Lehrer Show at WNYC

The Story Pirates on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show

How can you help?
Buy some Pirate gear. Volunteer with the Story Love program, adopt a school or donate items from the wish list. If you’re a performer, consider becoming a Pirate. Know a child who likes to write? Tell them to send in a story. Everyone who submits will receive a positive, encouraging response from a Story Pirate.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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